Friends fore life

September 2020

When Don “Camel” Kmill and Gary “Buck” Rogers got together with Don Burton and Barry McCulloch for a round of golf in 1995, they had no idea what a commitment they were making. “It started as a way to get a few buddies out for some golf and laughs with no real long term thoughts” says Kmill. Word spread to their friends, another foursome joined them the next Friday, and within a short time, the group grew to yet another foursome. And that is how the Buck’n Camel Club was born.

As the group grew in size, Gary started booking the tee times to ensure they could go out as a group. Before this could be done with the click of a mouse, Gary would phone each golfer to see if they were coming that Friday, so he’d know how many spots to book. In that first season, enough golfers were coming out that they organized a year end tournament. It would turn out to be the first of many.

Twenty-six years later (and counting), they are still golfing every Friday night and the original foursome has grown to a group of over 40 golfers. Kmill has kept statistics since 1995 for every person who has golfed on a Friday night. The full list is over 70 names long.

The connection for most of the players is rooted in another sport: hockey. “Most of the guys are hockey players or our kids played hockey together”, says Rogers. Those kids have grown up and now some of them have joined their Dads on the course, ensuring the Buck’n Camel Club will continue into the next generation.

Each night concludes with a shoot out with the shot closest to the hole winning a cash prize. Don faithfully tracks everyone’s career earnings. To date, 7 participants have won over $1,000. It may sound like a lot, but as Don says with a grin, “It took 26 years to get there”. After the final putt has been sunk, they move the festivities to a local restaurant where the stats no doubt provide fodder for bragging rights and some good-natured ribbing.

Naturally, as with so many things, the pandemic necessitated a few changes. The start of this season was delayed by a few weeks and there was nowhere to go after the round. Lori Buchanan, wife of long time member Don Buchanan, was not about to let the guys go hungry. She has been hosting at their house this year, cooking up feasts of ribs, paninis, burgers, fries, and salads. “So our club has a lady auxillary” Gary and Don joke. They are truly grateful for her generosity with the time and effort it takes to do this for them.

Over the years, they have lost a few of their friends, but they are far from forgotten. Steve Delin, Mike Sleep and Frank Levanto each have a chair dedicated to them. These chairs are placed behind the 9th green every Friday night so that they can be there with their friends as they finish their round. One night a year, the group gathers around the chairs, say a few words and reminisce about their friends and offer a toast to them. The year end tournament which always takes place on the 1st Saturday of October is named after Steve Delin, the Mike Sleep Memorial Award is given to the Player of the Year, and the Frank Levanto Memorial Award goes to the golfer who hit closest to the pin during the season.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Buck’n Camel Club at Strathcona for many years. Talking to Gary and Don, and watching the Friday night groups, it’s clear that the friendships and shared history are the ties that bind this group.

I hope we are all lucky enough to be part of any group where enjoying each other’s company for over 25 years is par for the course.

Kathy Shilliday is a regular contributor and a hawk eye for stories to share. She can be reached at

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.