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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: On the golf course with Wheelock Whitney

The battle between Mike Lynn and the Irwin Jacobs/Carl Pohlad combination for control of the Vikings waged for more than four years. There was a lawsuit filed by the Jacobs/Pohlad interests seeking control in August 1987; eventually, Lynn and his allies prevailed, and Jacobs and Pohlad sold their shares in December 1991.

Max Winter, the last of the five founding partners, was the team president when General Manager Jim Finks left the organization after the 1973 season. In 1974, he hired Lynn as assistant to the president. Winter had met Lynn, as Mike lobbied at NFL meetings in a failed attempt to get a franchise for Memphis.

Lynn became the CEO and the day-to-day operator of the franchise. There was a falling out with Winter in the mid-‘80s, and Max sold his shares to Jacobs and Pohlad in the hope they would be able to oust Lynn.

Jacobs and Pohlad were able to control a fraction over 50 percent of the total shares, but only one-third of the voting shares. The other voting shares were held by the Bill Boyer estate (with Jack Steele as the representative) and John Skoglund, the son of H.P. Skoglund, a founder who had died in 1977.

Lynn was aligned with Steele and Skoglund. Some members of the Boyer estate wanted to sell, and Lynn brought in Wheelock Whitney and Jaye Dyer to help accommodate those wishes.

Whitney and Dyer were added to the Vikings’ board in 1988, as were Pohlad and Jacobs. This still gave Lynn a voting majority. Eventually, Wheelock received the largely ceremonial title of team president. He held it for a couple of years, before Lynn stepped aside and Roger Headrick took over day-to-day operations on Jan. 1, 1991.

By then, there was a group of 10 owners that Lynn had established – many of whom played their golf at Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata. The group of 10 eventually sold to Red McCombs in July 1998.

You might have heard about it, in the form of, “Purple Pride! Purple Pride!’’

Some time in that decade – from 1988 to 1998 – Wheelock extended me an invitation to join a foursome at Woodhill on a Tuesday.

This might have been because I was a firm backer of Mike Lynn’s allies in columns written during the battle for Vikings’ control. I would like to say this was after taking a hard look at the issues from both angles, but it was actually because I thought Lynn was a great character and wanted to have him stick around.

Joe Soucheray named him the “Remarkably Slick Mike Lynn’’ during Joe’s days as a Minneapolis Tribune sports columnist. I stole that and shortened it to Remarkable Mike Lynn.

The fact that new owners came in here after the Group of 10 – first McCombs, then Zygi Wilf – and were beyond peeved to have to continue to send checks to Lynn for his annual take from Metrodome suites …

Well, I think that is among the most-hilarious things in what now stands in a lengthy career in the Twin Cities sports media.

I remain delighted by my interaction with the late Mr. Lynn (he died in 2012), and one reason for that is it allowed me to get to know Wheelock Whitney to some degree.

Wheelock died this week at age 89, and my sincere tribute to him on Twitter was that he might have been my all-time favorite really rich guy.

Most of that stems from the 18 holes played on a blue-sky day at Woodhill, and for this reason:

Phil Reith was the long-serving and colorful pro at Woodhill. The course was closed to members on Mondays, but from what I ascertained, the people who worked for Phil were generously treated when it came to being able to play on those days.

There were also rumors that Phil might have invited a couple of folks he had met at Bunny’s to play on Monday, but I can’t confirm that, being the teetotaler I became in 1981.

I do know that Alissa Herron – of the golfing Herrons – was working in some manner at the course. In that role, she was able to arrange a match: Alissa and Jane Mackenzie vs. me and Gregg Wong, a co-worker in my St. Paul days and a long-suffering golf partner of mine.

It wasn’t really much of a match. Wong could only do so much to carry my ample posterior against the talent of Alissa and the steadiness of Miz Mackenzie.

This match happened to take place on the Monday before I was scheduled to display my left-to-right, and farther-to-the-right, game to Wheelock for the first time.

But here was the best part:

As Wheelock’s group gathered on the first tee shortly before noon on that Tuesday, he produced a camera and said:

“Here, Patrick, we’ll have a photo taken and you can show people that a sports writer was allowed to play Woodhill.’’

To which I replied: “I certainly would be honored to have my photo taken with you, Wheelock, any time and any place, but I should confess that I played Woodhill yesterday.’’

And there was another moment that remains unforgettable:

The tradition at Woodhill, apparently, was for members to have a tree planted in memory of a lost loved one. Wheelock’s wife Irene had died and he had planted a tree on the left side of a fairway. And it wasn’t a sapling that was planted, obviously; it already was a stout tree.

I read in Wheelock’s obit this week that he was a lefthander. I did not recall that, but maybe that’s why we were both in the right rough – me because of a relentless slice, and Wheelock because that was a miss.

Anyway, we were standing in the rough, and Wheelock pointed 75 yards or so forward on the left and said, “That’s Irene’s tree.’’

I asked if he had ever hit a ball into the tree. Wheelock said the reason the tree was planted on the left was because he never hit the ball to that side of the fairway.

I whacked something ugly out of the rough. Wheelock then skulled an iron from the semi-thick grass and the result was a line drive directly into Irene’s tree.

Wheelock watched the ball drop straight down behind the tree, then instantly pointed a fist toward the sky and shouted, “Damn you, Irene.’’

It remains perhaps my favorite bad-shot reaction in golf years that were built on bad shots.

Tucker, a great shooter, offers insights into the phenomenal Curry

Trent Tucker was the best long-range shooter any of us has seen play basketball for the Gophers. Those weren’t credited as threes when Tucker was starring for the 1982 Big Ten champions, but they were 26-footers.

“We were running our offense in practice when I first was here,’’ Tucker said. “I took a couple of shots from way out there and Dutch [coach Jim Dutcher] started to say, ‘Hey, Trent, that’s not …’

“And they went in and he said, ‘OK, I see. Go ahead, Trent.’ ‘’

I asked Tucker for his scouting report on Stephen Curry, the current sensation of the NBA for his ability to make shots consistently from incredible distances.

“I’m amazed at his strength and conditioning,’’ Tucker said. “That display he put on in overtime against Portland … to be making those shots with full confidence at the end of an extra-long night is something you don’t see.

“You noticed Damian Lillard was trying to go head-to-head with him, but he was starting to lose his legs. Not Steph.’’

What has stunned me is the quickness of Curry’s release on those mighty jumpers. Tucker enlightened me.

“On his last dribble, when he’s getting ready to shoot, he’s cupping the ball and already starting his shooting motion,’’ Tucker said. “He doesn’t have to load up to take his shot. The ball is almost gone before a defender realizes Steph is going to shoot.

“I’ve only seen a few players who could make shots consistently with that move off the dribble. Steph’s father, Dell, was one … and we all know how great he was as a pure shooter.’’

Tucker was the sixth overall choice by the Knicks in the 1982 draft. He played nine seasons there, was lightly used in San Antonio in 1991-1992, and then was part of a Bulls’ championship team in his final season in Chicago.

Players from that era have consistently tried to downplay Curry’s brilliance by pointing out two things: A), the cheap shots that great shooter would have suffered in the ‘80s and ‘90s are gone; and B) the hand check is now consistently called as a foul.

“I look at Steph as someone who would have been a terrific player in any era,’’ Tucker said. “That said, the game is definitely different than when I came into the league. It wasn’t hand checking; you could get away with grabbing on defense.

“And if you were a young guy and made a couple of long jumpers, you were going to get knocked on your rear end.

“Early in my time with the Knicks, we were playing Washington, and Ricky Sobers was a mean veteran guard. I made a long jumper over him and he started cursing, telling me if I did it again I was going to get knocked to the floor.

“I made another one and he knocked me to the floor. We had Truck Robinson, maybe the toughest guy in the league. I looked at him and he said, ‘That’s the way it is, kid.’

“But Truck also said: What you do the next time Sobers is guarding you, run into a screen set by me. I did that, Truck flattened Sobers, and that took care of that.’’

Tucker has been the athletic director for the Minneapolis public schools since 2013. It is always a battle to fund activities for those schools.

We were on a TV show together last weekend and I made this off-air comment:

“The City of Minneapolis will be spending $52,000 a day to fund Zygi Wilf’s football stadium starting in 2021. The Vikings will be making enormous profits, $150 million a year or more.

“I think it would be a class move for the Vikings to pledge $1 million a year – or more -- for activities at the Minneapolis public schools.’’

Tucker smiled and said: “That would give them a lot of good P.R. in the city.’’

The Vikings are set to make a large investment in Eagan by moving their headquarters, practice facility and creating other development there. Included will be a stadium seating up to 10,000 to which high school teams allegedly will have access.

If the Vikings are going to build a stadium in the suburbs, where there’s really no need, my stance is they should be willing to pledge a sizable and sustainable gift where it’s needed:

For athletics and other activities in the city will be paying through the nose for three decades to create an incredible profit center of the Vikings and the NFL. 


Three important factors in the Twins’ train wreck:

*Byron Buxton’s inability to hit took away great center-fielding and made the outfield a nightmare.

*The on-field staff was confident Trevor May would be dominant in bullpen. He hasn’t been.

*Brian Dozier's continued subpar play from the last 2 ½ months of 2015, rather than a return to All-Star form.