In the tough moments, Mahek Acharya wants athletes to know they’re not alone 

Mahek Acharya’s golf journey began when her uncle gifted her a set of pink clubs. “I tried other sports, but golf just stuck with me,” she said. She went on to join First Tee – Greater Chicago and play on her high school team. 

But as all players know, golf doesn’t always cooperate. “One season, things were going really great,” Mahek explained. “I was having fun and playing well, but then all the sudden, I just couldn’t hit the ball. I don’t know what happened, but it was really demotivating. I even told my parents I wanted to quit, but I knew I couldn’t give up the sport I love.” 

It was this experience that inspired Mahek to start her podcast, Insights of the Mental Game. “I knew I needed to find a solution and talking things out has always helped me,” she said. “It’s been a journey, but the podcast has helped me love golf again, and people have told me it’s helped them too, which I think is my biggest accomplishment.” 

Mahek has interviewed First Tee participants from around the country, many of whom she met at national participant events, including the First Tee Leadership Summit supported by PGA TOUR Superstore. That’s where she connected with LPGA player Shasta Averyhardt, who went on to appear on her show too. “Mental strength is so important in golf so to hear from a professional was really cool,” Mahek said.  

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which was created to help address stigma surrounding the topic, but experiencing mental blocks can still be isolating for athletes, Mahek said. “I remember when Simone Biles had the ‘twisties’ and she wasn’t able to compete during the Tokyo Olympics,” she said. “Even in my own community, a lot of people didn’t take it seriously.” 

While her podcast mostly focuses on golf, Mahek has also covered ice skating, basketball and tennis. She’s learned that each sport brings unique mental challenges. “I think it helps when athletes realize they’re not alone,” she said. “For a while I thought I was the only one struggling, but it makes it easier to know other people have these experiences too.” 

Mahek is preparing to graduate from high school and plans to continue her podcast at Indiana University, where she will study business. Though her competitive golf career is ending, she said she’ll continue playing for fun and stay involved with First Tee. 

“I’m just so happy I could make change with this podcast,” she said. “Making a difference in even one person’s life is such a great feeling.”