Native Californian Saw Dreams Come True in Park City
October 7, 2008
Craig Sanchez shined in last spring’s "Park City Follies" and, more recently, as the lead in "Footloose" at the Egyptian Theatre. He’s always enjoyed acting, he says, ranking it alongside skiing, watching good films and sipping good whiskey as his avocations of choice.
It’s a wonder he can find the time.
Sanchez is arguably among the busiest men in town. As the Golf Course Manager at the Park City Golf Club, he’s knee-deep in golf tournaments, marketing campaigns, travel and management chores most of the year. But the longtime Parkite wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no grass growing under his feet.
"Around here, we cut it every day," he grins.
He hails from Big Bear Lake, California, the son of Jean and Tom Sanchez. He has two sisters, Dianne and Sandie. His older brother, Tom, passed away six years ago.
"Back then Big Bear was a small mountain town and the only ski resort in southern California," he recounts. "Everybody knew everybody and everybody was very outdoor-oriented. "I grew up ski racing, playing basketball for the school team and water skiing."
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After graduating from Big Bear High, Sanchez attended California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks. In 1978 he visited his sister Dianne, who lived in Park City, and quickly fell in love with the town. "I flew home, packed everything I owned and my dog, Pandora, into my 1969 Dodge Charger and moved here," says Sanchez.
"I wanted to be a ski bum for the winter. I waited tables, bartended and skied a bunch. That one winter lasted four years," he jokes.
Sanchez met Kathleen Kelly while performing in the play "Once Upon a Mattress," produced by a now-defunct community theatre company in a huge tent on Swede Alley. "Our first official date was July 4, 1980, when we went to a Park City Muckers rugby game," he remembers with precision.
Sanchez and Kelly moved together to California two years later, settling in Half Moon Bay in 1983.
He started his own business in San Francisco as a floor trader, buying and selling stock option contracts on the Pacific Stock Exchange.
They were married in 1987 in a Half Moon Bay Jazz Club overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They have a son, Brett, now 19 and a sophomore in college.
The California couple missed Park City and the mountains. They moved back in 1989 and Sanchez got a job as manager of the Summit House Restaurant at Park City Mountain Resort.
Five years later, he made a career change when he was hired as operations manager for "Golf-in-the-Round," a start-up golf operation in Salt Lake City. From there, Sanchez leveraged into a city job as Tournament Director for the Park City Golf Course in 1995. In 1997, he was promoted to Golf Course Manager for the Park City Golf Club at the municipal golf course.
A career departure came in 2000 during the run-up to the 2002 Winter Olympics, when Sanchez was tapped to be a special projects manager for the city. He was deeply immersed in the planning effort with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
"About everyone who worked for the city wore more than one hat during the Olympics," he says.
During the Games, he was in charge of the Park City Olympic Torch relay, Park City Night at the Medals Plaza and managed the Park City Hospitality Center, among many other duties. After the Olympics, Sanchez returned to his job at the Golf Club, where he happily remains today.
In the off-season at the golf course, he stays busy as a member of the city’s senior management team. He coordinates and conducts citywide employee training in customer service and personal accountability.
In addition to his frenetic work schedule, Sanchez serves on the Board of the Park City Chamber Bureau. "It’s exciting to work with a group of people with such talent and enthusiasm," he says. "After my participation in this year’s City Tour, I think I may become a professional indoor mechanical bull rider." Sanchez winks at this.
The veteran city employee says he wants to do more acting, as well. "I’ve always enjoyed it and it’s a lot of fun," he says. He hopes to become an annual cast member of "Park City Follies," the irreverent spring fundraiser at the Egyptian Theatre that roasts just about everyone in town.
He and his wife live comfortably in their home on Tollgate Road and continue to enjoy the people, the seasons and the variety of recreational opportunities here.
"Besides my family, skiing is still my No. 1 passion. There is still no greater rush than a quiet powder morning or a speedy groomer day," says Sanchez.
"I like to visit desert country during the shoulder seasons," he adds. "We recently bought a second home in Moab, where we escape in late fall and winter. I enjoy the small-town feel of the place and my wife is an avid river runner.
Sanchez cringes when he hears Park City old-timers lamenting the massive changes that have swept the town.
"I moved here in 1978 when the place was practically a ghost town. Sure, I miss the good old days, especially Sunday afternoon softball in the park," he admits. "But I choose to embrace the new Park City. This is still a wonderful place with incredible people. I have yet to find anywhere else I’d rather be."
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org