Pro shares the best advice that he’d give his younger self

Tour player Akshay Bhatia reveals the one piece of advice that he'd tell his younger self after his experience as a pro golfer

After life on Tour, Akshay Bhatia got candid about what he'd tell his younger self.

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Akshay Bhatia has seen himself quickly become a fan favorite, with the 21-year-old recently earning his first PGA Tour victory at the Barracuda Championship.

Despite barely being the legal age to drink a beer, Bhatia admits that he’s learned a lot about himself from his short time on Tour, which only began in 2019. And while he says that the win at the Barracuda gives him a sense of validation now, he remains hungry for more.

“I don’t think my mindset changes,” he says. “Obviously, I want to go out and play good golf and have a good week and earn my spot into the Playoffs next week. But I think it’s a little more freeing.

“I know how to do it, I have done it, I know the emotions that go into it.”

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As he prepares for this week’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., he opened up about how he’s changed as a player since turning pro.

“I mean, I didn’t know what to think when I was 17, it was just the coolest thing to play PGA Tour events and travel the world and get courtesy cars,” he said.

“I don’t know how I could explain my journey with the pandemic and being 17; couldn’t rent cars, then playing Korn Ferry Tour, winning, then hurting myself. It was just a lot of different things went on that I wouldn’t have imagined that would happen.

“But for it to happen now at 21 with special temporary membership, everything that went on this year is pretty gratifying.”

So what exactly would he tell his younger self after experiencing the Tour for a few years?

“I mean, it’s very hard,” he admits. “I felt like in junior golf I was always kind of No. 1 in my class and I felt like I was so good that it was going to be easy coming out here, but it really isn’t.

“You have to work so hard to get out here. So when I turned pro, I felt like I was ready, but I really wasn’t,” he said. “I’ve really realized that.”

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The main difference that Bhatia sees is in his preparation and the sacrifices he has to make to compete each week — as it’s not always about hitting balls for hours, but much more about taking care of his body.

“You’ve got to not practice as much as — like, as much as you want as a kid, you’ve got to really take care of your body,” he adds.

“I would say schedule-wise, you have to be really smart about it. I mean, from working out to eating to sleeping, you’ve got to sacrifice a lot.

“There’s so many things that go on when you’re out here because you’re playing four, five weeks in a row, you’re traveling anywhere and everywhere. It’s just you sacrifice a little bit of the fun part of going to see some cities or whatever it may be, and you’ve just got to really just be disciplined in everything you do.”

Even for amateur golfers out there, Bhatia’s lesson is a reminder to think bigger picture, and not always focus on just the golf swing. It means preparing yourself mentally and physically, so that you’re sharp each time you step foot on the golf course.

Nick Dimengo Editor