Fareen Samji is a former pro golfer and five-time Canadian International Long Drive Challenge champion. She is passionate about teaching women how to golf and how to leverage the game of golf in a business context.
How did you get into golf?
I grew up in Kenya, in East Africa, and I was a nationally ranked tennis player, as a junior. My mom started playing golf and she thought it would be a good idea for me to start, so when I was 10 years old she took me out to the driving range, kicking and screaming, because golf was for old people and I didn’t want to play it. Mothers exaggerate, right? But I think she said I had some natural talent. I realized if I played golf then I could have Mom all to myself and I didn’t have to share her with my two brothers.
Fast forward several years and you’re now a five-time Canadian International Long Drive Challenge champion! What is that like?
I played professional golf on the tour for four years, playing golf as a job, and that was a total grind. I quit playing professional golf and then I discovered the sport of long drive. What I love about long drive is that you really just go out there and hit the ball as hard as you can. It’s a power sport, it’s an adrenaline sport, it’s high octane and it’s a ton of fun!
How did you turn your golf career into a business?
I’m an entrepreneur. When you have a talent, when you have a skill, you try to do it as much as you can because you enjoy doing it, and then opportunities just kind of come your way when you put intention out there. People started asking me to help them, people started asking me to teach them, people started asking me to motivate them and asking me if I could help them with their game.
What is your new Smashing the Grass Ceiling program all about?
When I was teaching tons and tons of golf, I was teaching corporate women who were being left behind because all the guys in the business would go out golfing with all the bosses and the VPs and the women would say, ‘You know what, we’ll hold down the fort, we’ll get the phones. You guys go out there, no problem!’ And they do a great job, they do their jobs really well, but it’s the guys that are out there playing golf that are making the deals, closing the deals, getting the promotions, and getting the raises. The whole idea behind Smashing the Grass Ceiling is to give women the confidence to use golf as a relationship building tool so they’re not left behind.
Do you think that there’s a stigma around women who are active and that it keeps women from getting involved in sports like this?
I think the stigma is that golf is an old boys’ sport and that women golfers are slow, women golfers don’t know how to play, that they’ll hold you up. I think there’s a lot of misogyny and a lot of preconceived notions about women in golf, so I think it scares women away. The whole point of my program is to motivate, encourage and inspire women, and to understand that that is an old philosophy and that we should take back the game and use it for our own advancement, just like the guys do. It’s about creating opportunities for ourselves.
How do you stay active?
I have two kids, so that keeps me very active! I have a 16-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son, so they keep me on my feet. I work a lot but I also play a lot, and I sleep very well too. For me, staying active is about keeping your mind active. We don’t have cable TV in my house, so we don’t watch TV.
What do you do to treat yourself?
I love travelling. My parents still live in Kenya so I have a good opportunity to go and visit them every year. I think it’s very important to be able to shut off and close everything down and shut down for as long as you can, whether it’s five minutes or 15 minutes. I meditate, I get my hair done once a week – just things I do for myself.
What’s your favourite treatment at the spa?
I love the spa! I go for a massage once every three weeks – I have to do that because it keeps my body moving. But I’d say my favourite treatment is probably facials. I’m out in the sun a lot so I kind of have to make sure that my face is being treated well, and when someone is working on your face you have to shut up and be quiet. It forces you to not talk.