CEDAR CITY, Utah, Dec. 27 - Southern Utah University President Michael T. Benson and the Thunderbird golf program have made it a Merry Christmas at Cedar Ridge Golf Course as they have teamed to donate 12,000 new range balls - complete with the SUU athletic logo - to Cedar Ridge golf professional John Evans and the facility.

As the SUU golf teams' local home, Cedar Ridge was a logical beneficiary of the gift, Benson pointed out.

"Given the unselfish relationship the University has enjoyed with John and Cedar Ridge over the years we felt this was a proper way to say thank you for their support of our student-athletes and our programs," Benson said. "We hope to continue this as an annual gesture of thanks from the University to the community."

The relationship between Cedar Ridge and the SUU golf program has been beneficial to both through the years, Evans said, pointing out that the SUU golf teams have "donated many hours and spent a lot of time dressing up the golf course, doing the little things that our superintendent and his crew just don't have the time for.

"Cedar Ridge and Cedar City want to thank the University for all the things they have done for us over the years," Evans noted. "It's a privilege for us to have the University's players on our course. We're proud of the way they represent Cedar City and the University."

"Cedar Ridge has been very supportive of not only our golf programs, but of many programs at the University," SUU Golf Coach Richard Church noted. "The staff at Cedar Ridge goes out of its way to host us and other worthy causes in the community. We're excited about the opportunity to pay a little back to the course.

"Now, whenever people hit range balls at Cedar Ridge, they're going to be reminded of SUU," Church added.

Each of the 12,000 Strata balls is adorned with a full-color version of the familiar SUU T-Bird logo, as well as the familiar black stripes designating their range-ball status.

Despite their obvious range-ball status, Evans said he won't be surprised if a few more than normal "disappear" due to their unique appearance.

"We lose a lot of range balls every year, to holes and damage, but I won't be surprised if a few more of these, especially at first, turn up missing," he said with a smile. "At least when people see them they'll know where they came from."

-- SUU --