MOULTRIE — When Sam Funderburk graduated from Colquitt County High School in 1986, he looked forward to playing baseball on the next level.

He was a fine wide receiver and punter on the 1984 and 1985 Packer football teams and in his junior and senior years he played for Jerry Croft’s Colquitt County baseball teams that won 34 games.

Funderburk was slowed somewhat by mononucleosis as a senior baseball player, but went to Abraham Baldwin College hoping to get collegiate career going.

That career fizzled, but he found another in sports that has been more rewarding than he could have imagined.

After graduating from Auburn with a degree in sports management, he went to work at Summerbrooke Golf and Country Club in Tallahassee and began learning the ropes.

He went on to become the golf professional and general manager and in July 2003 he and a partner bought the course.

“When I got to Auburn, I started hanging out with Billy Edwards and started playing golf,” Funderburk said after the second round of the Pot o’ Gold Pro-Am at Sunset Country Club on Saturday.

“I went straight to Tallahassee and started learning the ropes. I just worked my way up.”

Funderburk just smiles as if he can’t believe how far he has come.

Not that he was totally unfamiliar with golf.

“I was the junior club champion here when I was 9,” he remembers. “I shot a 54.”

And promptly gave up golf and became an outstanding young football, basketball and baseball player.

When Jim Hughes took over the Colquitt County High football program in 1983, he went looking for some athletes who may have slipped through the cracks.

Funderburk and close friend Stacy Middlebrooks were two the Hughes went after.

“He called me at my house,” Funderburk remembers.

The football team went 9-2-1 in 1984 with Funderburk and others helping rebuild the program.

As a senior in 1985, he led the Packers in receptions with 16. He also led the team in punting with a 39.0 average on 42 kicks and drew some interest from college teams as a punter.

Colquitt went 7-3-1 that season.

But baseball was his real passion.

“Still is,” he said, adding that he still keeps in touch with former teammate Muzzy Jackson, now the assistant general manager of the Kansas City Royals.

“I watch more baseball than I do golf.”

When he was a junior, he helped lead the Colquitt County baseball team to a 17-6 record.

When he was a senior, the Packers went 17-9. The team included a number of talented players, including Jackson, Middlebrooks, Chris McAlpin, Charles Akridge, Ben Wiggins, David Evans and others.

Funderburk batted .324 with two home runs and 21 runs batted in, second on the team behind Jackson’s 35.

He also was 2-3 as a pitcher with a 3.35 ERA.

Stints at ABAC and Valdosta State did not lead to a baseball career so he headed to Auburn.

He has not looked back.

Funderburk has a home on the golf course where he and his wife are raising a 12-year-old son who appears to carry some of his father’s athletic genes.

He does not get to play as much golf as he would like now.

“It’s a business,” he said, saying that he probably has played 15 times over the last year.

But he enjoys returning to Colquitt County, where he still owns 325 acres in the Autreyville area and where his brother still lives.

He is playing in his fifth Pot o’ Gold Pro-Am and left Sunset on Saturday not knowing whether he’d be back from Tallahassee on Sunday to play in the morning or in the afternoon with the contenders in the last day of the tournament.

His Summerbrooke foursome has shot a 65 each day for a 130, nine shots behind tournament-leading Eagle’s Landing.

And he is unlikely to claim the low professional money.

He has shot an 80-78 for a 158 that leaves him 17 shots behind the four tournament leaders.

But it seems not to bother him.

“What could be better than playing with three of your buddies and having fun?” he said.

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