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Uniting Nations Cup 2012

Scottsdale amateur Patrick Gravelin was in the middle of a match in last year’s inaugural Uniting Nations Cup when he suddenly got caught up in his surroundings. Gravelin was representing his country in the Ryder Cup style competition against Mexico, but he was having a hard time focusing on golf. He found himself transfixed on the Sea of Cortez, which nearly splashes against Peninsula de Cortez golf course in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. “I just caught myself standing and watching that sea,” he said. “It was the bluest blue I’d ever seen and it was so quiet and calm. It was awesome.” Gavelin and 47 other U.S. amateurs return to the picturesque Mayan Palace golf resort in Puerto Peñasco, May 17-20, for the second Uniting Nations Cup. Gravelin and his partner, Don Raley of Phoenix, didn’t win either of their team best-ball matches, but the U.S. team of professionals and amateurs fared better—winning the overall competition from their neighbors to the south, 56-44. The UNC was dreamed up a few years ago to highlight the alliance between the U.S. and Mexico beyond the countries commercial and cultural ties. In its first year, tournament director Vito Berlingeri said the UNC exceeded all expectations. “We utilized golf as an ambassador,” he said. “What developed was way beyond our expectations. Golf brought the two countries together.” Last year’s opening ceremonies were attended by several dignitaries, including Guillermo Padres Elias, Governor of Sonora, Mexico and Bob Walkup, Mayor of Tucson. This year’s tournament, organized by the Arizona Golf Assn., won’t include professionals. But despite a lackluster economy, the tournament has been thriving–adding sponsors almost daily. Bose, Zagas, Johnson Controls and the Puerto Peñasco Tourist Board are just a few of the big names to have signed on. The Mayan Palace’s Peninsula de Cortez course has landed a few big tournaments since it opened six years ago, including the Pac-10 women’s championships in 2009. Vidanta Golf, which operates the Peninsula course and four others in Mexico, plans to have the UNC on its calendar every May. “Our strategic plan is to lift the tournament’s profile in each subsequent year,” said Jesus Torres, director of Vidanta Golf. “We have high hopes that the Uniting Nations Cup tournament will be entrenched in the future as one of the most desirable events in the region.” The course, co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II, is 7,100-yards long and the par-72 layout is one of the most challenging and breathtaking in Mexico. In typical Nicklaus fashion, golfers will see the good in seven seaside holes, the bad in sloped greens, uneven fairways and thick rough and the ugly in blind shots, pot bunkers and stiff breezes. Raley almost didn’t see any of Peninsula de Cortez last year. A week before the UNC, he was in a hospital bed with intestinal blockage, awaiting an operation. “I told myself there was no way I was going to miss playing for my country and missing a chance to play this course,” said Raley, who plays out of Pinewood Country Club near Flagstaff. “Somehow, things cleared up and I was able to play without having to go through an operation.” Raley and Gravelin described the three days of matches against their opponents from Hermosillo as friendly, but intense. “It could have been even friendlier, but neither of us spoke Spanish and they didn’t speak much English,” Gravelin said. “That’s a shame because I would have liked to learn more about what they do for a living.” While there were plenty of laughs and calls of “bueno” when a good shot was executed, Gravelin said the goodwill didn’t extend to short putts. “We didn’t give any and we didn’t get any,” he said. Tournament notes: For current tournament information, visit http://unitingnationscup.com. The Mayan Palace resort offers three nights lodging, four days of unlimited golf and all meals for under $400 per person. A two-night package is priced under $300. For more information and details, please email: [email protected]