PRIOR LAKE, Minn. — Vikings Legends, golfers and sponsors joined forces last week for the annual Minnesota Vikings Foundation golf tournament presented by Molson Coors at The Meadows at Mystic Lake.
The beautiful fairways and greens hosted the major fundraiser for the fourth consecutive year, enabling the Minnesota Vikings Foundation to raise more than $200,000 to benefit the Vikings Table charity food truck.
"This is always a really fun event, and with Mystic Lake as our sponsor and Molson Coors, it's a tremendous opportunity for us to raise money for a really important cause," Vikings Executive Director of the Minnesota Vikings Foundation Brett Taber said.
Normally held in June under sunny skies with puffy clouds, the tournament was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of current Vikings coaches, players and administrators, Vikings Legends golfed with teams of four.
The chilly early autumn day was blanketed by clouds and made one think more along the lines of football than foursomes. Participants wore protective face coverings, and every golfer received an individual cart to allow for social distancing, but they weren't swayed from their backswings.
After all, they had an almost-40-foot reminder of why they were helping. Vikings Table was parked where the golfers checked in to play. The custom-built food truck presented by Xcel Energy launched in June 2019 by serving up free meals to those in need and offering nutrition education.
As the COVID-19 pandemic began taking its toll in the spring, the Vikings Table program shifted gears to deliver 100 meals each weekday to community partners while following guidelines from local, state and national entities. Vikings Table's pivot has resulted in the delivery of more than 11,000 meals to youth and families since the onset of the pandemic.
"COVID-19 has impacted everybody — not only our community but our team and all of our fans, so the Minnesota Vikings Foundation wanted to step in and help any way we could," Taber said. "Vikings Table has been an instrumental asset in being able to accomplish that.
"We started doing our meal deliveries every single day throughout the course of COVID-19 and have been able to provide 100 meals a day to kids and families that need them the most, and that's just one way we can help while everything has been going on," Taber added. "By being able to give people a stable meal that they can rely on and know where they're going to get it and take away nutrition, that one thing that people are constantly thinking about and let them focus on some of the things that are a little more difficult in life right now."
Nate Triplett, a 2010 fifth-round pick of the Vikings who played for the Colts, joined a FOX 9 team that carded two eagles on the front nine en route to winning the tournament. The winners will be invited to a road game in 2021.
A tie for second occurred between the Loffler Companies, Inc., team (featuring punter Greg Coleman) and Locher Bros. — Molson Coors (joined by receiver/punt returner Leo Lewis).
Linebacker Scott Studwell made the trip from his family's cabin for the day, but he didn't bring his clubs. Instead, he hopped in a golf cart to cruise around the course and enjoy the camaraderie aspect of the event.
"I have not picked up a club all summer, so I think I may have retired from golf as well," said Studwell, who was in just his second pro season in 1978 when the Vikings Children's Fund — the precursor to the Minnesota Vikings Foundation — was launched.
Studwell retired as a player in 1990 then continued his run with the Vikings in the personnel department from 1991-2019. The Vikings Ring of Honor member credited the Wilf family ownership group of the Vikings with elevating the team's efforts in the community.
"The Wilfs have been wonderful, as far as giving back to the community and being as supportive as they are for all of these different charities," Studwell said. "That's been a big breath of fresh air for everybody. They're creative, and they're giving and they listen and care. Without their support, it would make it a lot harder. There's a great group of people that work with the Vikings [Foundation], and it's nice to be involved."
In addition to Studwell, Triplett, Coleman and Lewis, the following Legends also participated: Tuinea Alipate, Rufus Bess, Brooks Bollinger, Todd Bouman, Mike Harris, Jeff Hazuga, Ryan Hoag, Ben Leber, Randall McDaniel, John Randle and Rickey Young. Former Gophers receiver and FOX 9 analyst Ron Johnson, who played for the Ravens, also hit the links.
"Our Minnesota Vikings Legends are so important to our franchise," Taber said. "They are what we built the foundation of this team on, and they're tremendous in not only giving back to the team and community with our fans, but also giving back philanthropically."