Her ‘office’ is the golf course

Carly Funicello drives a rough mower, one of several mowers at the Summerfield golf course.
Carly Funicello drives a rough mower, one of several mowers at the Summerfield golf course. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

The Summerfield Golf Course’s newest hire is a real standout in her field: Not only is greens-keeper Carly Funicello one of the few females in the profession nationwide, at 6-feet, 4-inches tall, she also is a former WNBA player.

Carly Funicello is a rare female greens-keeper in the golf industry.
Carly Funicello is a rare female greens-keeper in the golf industry.

Having spent her career in the restaurant business, Funicello didn’t have any experience in golf course maintenance and isn’t even a golfer, but she impressed golf course Superintendent Zach Palmer enough to hire her starting Sept. 1.

Starting on the job, “I listened a lot,” Funicello said. “I went home and Googled every single golf term, because it is an inside language. We have a great team here, and they made me feel super welcome.”

And they didn’t make her feel bad when she got a mower stuck in the mud. “They all laughed and just pushed it out,” Funicello said.

She really made herself essential to the golf course crew when she brought in a Keurig coffee maker for the break room in the maintenance shop that admittedly could use a little fixing-up. “I plan to add my personal touch,” Funicello said.

She has found herself as much at home on the golf course as she was on the basketball court. Born and raised in Southern California, Funicello played basketball at the University of California-Los Angeles before graduating. She also played for a brief time for the Los Angeles Sparks in the Women’s National Basketball Association. “I loved it,” she said.

Funicello was working as the general manager of operations for Islands restaurants in Southern California when her mom who lives in Summerfield convinced her to move to Tigard in September 2019. Funicello and her fiancé bought a house, and she became the manager at Bargarten restaurant in Beaverton but was let go when COVID hit.

The time between the restaurant and golf course jobs was spent doing projects around the house, such as laying tile. Funicello also got to spend more time with her four kids. She has a 15-year-old son, who is a sophomore at Tigard High School, and three daughters: The oldest is 13 and a freshman at THS, and the two youngest ones are 2 and 4 years old.

“I missed a lot with the older kids because of working restaurant hours, so I love the hours at this new job – 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. – because I can spend so much more time with my kids and drive them to games and practices after school,” said Funicello, who coaches her freshman daughter’s club basketball team.

Working at the Summerfield Golf Course, “I get to do something a lot of girls dream about,” Funicello said. “My office is the golf course.”