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Circle of Friends Golf Club Celebrates Its 10th Year of Swings

 The Circle of Friends golf organization has been in existence for 10 years.
Circle of Friends Golf
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DOWNTOWN — For Roger Crockett, the kiss was worth the nine-year wait.

Crockett claimed last year's championship for the Circle of Friends Golf Club, a Chicago-area group of about 60 African-American business professionals.

For his effort, the South Loop resident received a polished trophy similar to the PGA's FedEx Cup, which he hoisted and smooched.

"I also showed it off to family members," said Crockett, the president of R.O. Crockett Leadership and a former journalist at BusinessWeek. "It took nine years to win, and I definitely coveted winning it."

Crockett, Orlando Ashford and Billy Dexter, a partner at Downtown law firm Heidrick & Struggles, founded Circle of Friends 10 years ago. 

Dexter, of Lemont, said the club started with a "small group of guys who were really looking for competitive rounds, trophies and bragging rights."

Over time, Circle of Friends has become a multi-event league of sorts. The organization kicks off its 2013 season Saturday with "The Masters," the club's version of the famous PGA major at Augusta National. In the Circle of Friends' case, the winner receives a black, not green, jacket.

The club also has its own U.S. Open, British Open (held at Harborside International Golf Center in South Deering), and PGA Championship. The season culminates in Arizona with the Circle Championship, which Crockett so proudly won last year.

Crockett said the Circle of Friends always has embraced "camaraderie, competition and charity." Dexter said the organization donated about $4,000 to local charities, including Teen Living Programs, last year.

Although there are no annual fees, golfers can join by invitation only.

Isaac Carter, the athletic director and boys basketball coach at Robeson High School in Englewood, was invited into the club a few years after its inception because he and Dexter knew each other professionally and both liked golf.

"I found this game allows you to build friendships unlike any other," said Carter, of Beverly. "You really get a chance to get to know each other.

"And we also take it very seriously."