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A local father-son duo dominated the competition on its way to taking home national titles at the American FootGolf League National Championships at Desert Willow Golf Course in Palm Desert, Calif. on Nov. 12.

Sedona Red Rock High School principal Darrin Karuzas and his 13-year-old son Carson won their respective divisions at the fourth annual competition.


“There’s a couple of moments in your life you get really proud of: The day you get married, the day you have your first kid, maybe your first house, this was one of those days,” Darrin said. “When I found out he won, I was overwhelmed with emotion.”
Darrin Karuzas, left, and son Carson won their respective categories of the American FootGolf League National Championships on Nov. 12. Karuzas’ title qualified him for the December 2018 World Cup in Morocco.
Darrin won with a 15-under score of 201 in the three-round tournament. Carson did one better, going 32-under, albeit on a shorter course, six shots better than the 17-year-old runner-up Chandler Puig.

There are only four categories: Juniors, men, women and senior.

“For you and a family member to take two of them is really cool,” Darrin said. “It’s a part of history.”

Darrin has long been one of the country’s top ranked footgolfers in the senior division, which is for players 46 and older. Going into the tournament, he had aspirations to win the title, but was taken by surprise when Carson, not ranked in the top three nationally in the junior division, came out on top.

Adding to the marvel was that Darrin could not watch Carson because he himself was busy playing, although the Sedona Red Rock Junior High School seventh grader was eight strokes below par heading into the final of the three 18-hole rounds.

“He did everything well. He was driving the ball good, his approach shots, his putting was very good,” Darrin said.

Darrin started the tournament 2-over through the first seven holes, a cause for early discouragement. After changing soccer balls, he finished the round 2-under. A 6-under after round two put him seven shots ahead of the next closer soccer-ball punting compatriot.

A 7-under final round secured the title, 11 strokes better than runner-up Fernando Diaz. His score slated him ninth overall in the entire tournament field.

“I really focused and didn’t make mistakes,” said Darrin of the final round.

He talked about dedicating early mornings and late evenings practicing at the local course, at Canyon Mesa Country Club in the Village of Oak Creek. On days when Carson would leave practice or a long day of school tired, he still brought him out on the course.

“There were days when I had to drag him out there,” Darrin said. “But he admitted that it paid off.”

Correction: This story was updated on Monday, Nov. 27, redacting the statement that Darrin Karuzas' victory automatically qualified him for the World Cup in December 2018. It did not qualify him for that competition.

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