2018 PDGA Board of Directors Candidates Bios and Statements
2018 PDGA Board of Directors Candidates Bios and Statements
A Board of Directors is a requirement for non-profit status and is mandated by the PDGA bylaws. In addition to semi-annual summit meetings, the Board and staff conduct monthly teleconference calls and ongoing communication to accomplish required business. Some of the Board’s main activities include: setting PDGA policies; hiring and supervision of an Executive Director responsible for headquarters, staff, and ongoing operations; financial management including annual budget; identification of responsible future Board members; and representing the membership’s visions for the future of the sport and the association.
Three at-large Board member positions will be elected this year and the three candidates receiving the most votes will serve three-year terms from September 1, 2018 to August 31, 2021. For additional information on the PDGA elections process, refer to www.pdga.com/elections.
2018 Board Candidates
- Robert Decker #17745 - Kansas
- Scot Estep #77824 - Texas
- Trevor Harbolt #26860 - Texas
- Justin Menickelli #31347 - North Carolina
- Mike Sullivan #68783 - Virginia
- Danny Voss #45698 - Florida
Robert Decker #17745
- Location: Wichita, KS
- Born: 1954
- Gender: Male
I have a Bachelors of Science degree with an emphasis in accounting from Wichita State University. I also have 9 hours of college courses towards a Master’s degree. I have been required to have at least 40 classroom hours of continuing education each year since I received my permit to practice as a CPA in 1978. Since our business has many nonprofit clients such as the PDGA, many of those annual hours include classes specifically targeted to advising and auditing nonprofit clients. I have attended the AICPA National Governmental and Nonprofit Conference eight of the last nine years and I hope to do so again this year.
I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in private practice. I passed the CPA exam on my first try in November 1976.
I have 42 years of experience as a practicing Certified Public Accountant in public practice providing tax, auditing and advisory services to a wide variety of clients. I am also a former business owner. I am currently a principal of our firm (www.abbb.com). What is very important to note is that I have approximately 35 years of advising and assisting Not-for-Profit organizations, such as the PDGA, in all aspects of their operations and taxes. There are few in the industry more experienced than myself in this area. This allows me to provide extremely valuable knowledge to the PDGA directly related to its day-to-day and overall operations.
In addition to the above, my years as a practicing CPA and years of serving on various management teams have provided me with the ability to listen to all sides of a discussion and to formulate ideas and actions that incorporate the best of all opinions.
Disc Golf Experience
I am an Ace Club member and have participated in 8 of the last 13 Am Worlds and was also invited to the 2006 Pro Worlds. I have won my share of non-sanctioned and PDGA sanctioned events, as well as coming in “dead last” in my share of events. I am a Disc Golfer that loves to play the game, run tournaments, and assist with the growth of the sport.
I was the president or treasurer of the Air Capital Disc Golf Club in Wichita Kansas from 2001 through 2015 and was instrumental in negotiating, with the city, the expansion of several courses. During that time, I also ran a multitude of local “club nights” as well as many tournaments.
Finally, I am proud to have served on the PDGA board of directors since January 2005. During two of those years, I served as your President. Otherwise, except for the period since September 1, 2017, I have served as financial director and treasurer. During this nearly 14 years of service to the PDGA: I have gained valuable insight into the complex operations of the PDGA; the varying needs of its members & the sport of disc golf; and an understanding of the history of the PDGA & how it has come to this point in its existence.
Many of you know me and many of you don’t so, I think I’d like to start by directing you to my Candidate Biography Questionnaire and the following links:
- My profile on my employer's website: https://www.abbb.com/about/our-team/robert-w-decker
- My PDGA profile: https://www.pdga.com/player/17745
- My LinkedIn page: www.linkedin.com/in/robert-decker-1b77608
- My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=744970171
I’d also like to follow with a quote (probably not exact) from a PDGA radio interview with Justin Menickelli (our current president) when he was asked to make a comment about each board member: “What to say about Bob Decker; well, he’s been around forever”, he also stated that “he’s good with the Not-For-Profit taxes and such”.
To put it another way, I have more years on the PDGA board than anyone plus I have been one of the primary leaders of the PDGA during its largest growth in history. I have helped the PDGA grow from an active membership of about 10,000 to an active membership of 41,067 at the end of 2017; from an organization that was needing to raise membership fees every few years to stay out of financial difficulty to one that is strong financially; and to an Organization that very actively develops the sport of disc golf nationally and internationally. I have also helped grow the sport of disc golf in general during this period with my active participation in a local club, my support of the Kansas Disc Golf Association and my efforts with the PDGA.
How did I assist in this? Not by pushing an election promise of this, that or the other that was popular at the time. Instead, my goal was to make the PDGA a financially strong entity that could lead and support the growth of disc golf. I accomplished this by applying my 42 years of professional & business advisory knowledge and experience as a Certified Public Accountant and my almost 18 years of disc golf operational knowledge and experience. I used that knowledge of advising many other Not-for-profit organizations to properly advise and lead the board to make wise operational and spending decisions as well was to avoid rules changes that would alienate our members. In all of this, I valued the needs of our overall membership and volunteers over the wants of the vocal few.
So, if I must have a platform, it is the following: I promise to do my best to continue to grow the sport of disc golf and the PDGA in the manner best benefiting the majority of its members and the sport in general. I will continue to keep the long-term view at the forefront as opposed to the “let’s hurry up and do it now” attitudes that I have had to temper during my years on the board: “everything in its own time”. I will at all times keep both the recreational needs of our amateur members, the “living wage” of our pro members, and the needs of our volunteers in mind in all recommendations that I make or proposals I vote on. I promise to express my well thought out views and comments, as well as the views and comments that I have heard from our members, even if it means upsetting other members of the board or our committees (which it has over the years). Above all, I will continue with the mindset of “doing no harm” to our enjoyment of the sport or our members' livelihoods.
Please vote for me.
Scot Estep #77824
- Location: Spring Branch, TX
- Born: 1967
- Gender: Male
- Education: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University 1992, Residency in Veterinary Pathology 1998-2001 Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
- Occupation: Veterinary Pathologist, Owner of Texas Veterinary Pathology
26 years as a veterinarian with a private practice, military veterinary medicine, pathology residency, military medical research and currently as a private veterinary pathology consultant and business owner. Also regularly provide lecturing and teaching at international veterinary conferences and serve as an adjunct professor for 2 colleges. Retired from the US Army in 2013 as a Lieutenant Colonel. Authored and co-authored 35 scientific publications and 2 book chapters.
Raised by a home builder and paid my way through college roofing houses and remodeling houses/bathrooms.
Long History of community service stemming all the way back to high school, including: Park and recreational facility development, teaching Sunday school, youth mentorship programs and 14 years of coaching youth sports (baseball and football). Particularly I coached youth baseball for 12 years from coach pitch up through traveling high school aged teams.
Disc Golf Experience
I love disc golf and come from a family of disc golfers (My Brothers: Jerry Power 4207, Kyle Power 14522, Zach Estep 60452 and Casey Estep 84127 not to mention my son and 6 nephews that are in the PDGA). After retiring from the military in 2013 and retiring from coaching youth baseball in 2015 I needed to find something that was both active and mentally stimulating. In March 2015 my mother was in an accident that required that I spend a week in a rehabilitation facility, sitting in the rehab facility for 16 hours per day was too much for me so I called my brother, a long-time disc golfer (Kyle Power 14522), and asked him to meet me at a course with some discs. From that day I have been hooked and have played almost every day.
Probably the weakest part of this application is my lack of years of experience as a disc golfer, but I make up for the lack of years with the number of hours playing/practicing and serving to improve the local courses. I play every day, most days 24-36 holes. I love playing in local weekend events, and on my course that’s open to the public. I got into the sport just 3 years ago, but registered for the PDGA and played in my first tournament less than 9 months after I started playing. My claim to fame is that I have never been beaten by someone with a higher PDGA number than 77824. On average I play 1-2 mini tourneys per week and a PDGA sanctioned event every month. I hit my first ace that same year in December 2015 and have since hit 11 more aces. My long-term disc golf goal is to reach a rating of 960 (currently 908) and to win amateur worlds in my age group (MA50).
In the San Antonio area, I have become active in the local clubs and serve on the board as the course maintenance leader. My current goal is to bring the courses up to date with good signage and tee pads that are level and flat with the surrounding area. For me, signage and safety are the two main factors needed to grow the sport. If you build it they will come, but if there is good signage and a safe course they will come back! I ran and served as a TD for a PDGA sanctioned handicap league that was the first official PDGA event for 30 players and lead to 15 players joining the PDGA as result of one 6 week league. I regularly run small non-sanctioned “mini” tournaments. I built a legitimate 18 basket private course on my property and have served as a consultant for 3 additional private and public courses. I didn’t just throw baskets out in the field, I spent a year interviewing amateur and pro players, course designers and surveying courses everywhere I traveled. From this I developed an understanding of the importance of good course design, flow and safety. I am a scientist who was raised by a carpenter, so I approach everything with a scientist’s research followed by a practical plan.
Characteristics I will bring to your PDGA Board
Open minded and level-headed: I am one of 7 children, for my whole life I have been the guy that takes warring parties and brings them together to a functional centered approach. I like to consider myself a peacemaker.
Passion: My family will tell you that “I do not do things little!” Like building an 18-hole course at my house, retiring from the Army and starting my own business, and even running for the PDGA executive board… I jump all into the things that I commit to.
Leadership: Some retired Army officers might be stiff, regimented and hard to work with, but with me that couldn’t be farther from the truth, as I said above my primary leadership style is not directive, it is peacemaking. That said, in the Army I had 20 years of leadership training, I was responsible for a multimillion-dollar budget management, hiring/firing and management of many positions. I currently run my own business with 8 full and part-time employees and a large yearly budget. This experience would serve me well on the PDGA Board and we continue to develop innovative programs and ideas for the sport we all love.
My focus areas if voted onto the Board
Support local clubs: I suspect that less than 10% of disc golfers are registered with the PDGA and another significant number are registered but do not keep their membership up to date. I will be honest that I do not completely understand why everyone is not a member but I feel that the key is for the PDGA to provide more direct support to the local clubs. Some areas that would help are 501C (non-profit) registration assistance for clubs, streamlining the league process so that local “minis” can be sanctioned PDGA events, PDGA support of local clubs interaction with city and local government for new course installation, maybe a PDGA survey proving my belief that disc golf parks are some of the safest parks in America, new programs and membership levels could entice these players to become members…. These are just some thoughts; ultimately I think a listening ear and surveys of local clubs should be used to figure out the high impact areas that the PDGA could use to increase participation.
Course maintenance and safety (sustainability): Good course design leads to enjoyment by the users and safe course design ensures the courses stay in the ground. With the growth of new courses all over the world, we need to ensure we are providing information to not only course designers, but also the cities that are putting them in to ensure they understand what to look for when deciding to install a course and selecting a designer.
Grow the base through additional youth participation: Currently, parents are really concerned about the damage the contact sports cause to the developing brain and many are searching for alternatives. Disc golf is one of the viable alternatives, we as a sport need to capitalize on the opportunities and strive to introduce organized disc golf into our school systems, from elementary school up to college. With my experience as a youth coach I feel that I can provide a unique perspective to the development of youth sports and mentorship programs.
Increase participation of women and girls: Another underserved potential is women disc golfers. When asked about disc golf, most people start with the discussion of throwing a disc into the chains and falling into the basket. I start by explaining that it’s a 2-3 mile walk through shaded parks that periodically have baskets that you strive to get the disc into. I basically sell it as a healthy lifestyle with a fun element of competition that involves walking and throwing, and most of the time it is free. We need to increase the emphasis on fitness and handicap systems to level the playing field and to support more women at the recreational levels of disc golf, especially at weekly club “minis” is a great starting point for bringing more women into the sport.
In summary, the PDGA may have just over 100,000 members, but just within the US alone there are millions of people who play disc golf more than once per year. The numbers are already there, we just need to find a way to include everyone. There is an old saying that “all politics is local!” meaning that all political battles are won at the local level. I would like to co-opt that statement and say that All Growth is Local! The media value and continued draw of the professional tour is critical and I will support that 100%, but 80% of the PDGA is made up of amateur players. As a relatively new player (77824), and dare I say old player (MA50), I feel like I can represent all levels of the sport. BUT my primary emphasis will be on supporting local clubs, course maintenance and safety, youth programs and support of women golfers. Disc golf is at the tipping point of becoming a mainstream sport, courses are going in every day, new players are coming every day, I suspect that it will take only 5 years for us to hit 200,000 members. By focusing on growing the base, other things such improving our professional level events, media coverage, sponsorship support, and overall development of the game will quickly follow. I would be honored to provide my experience and volunteer services to the PDGA and its members to meet these goals.
Trevor Harbolt #26860
- Location: New Caney, TX
- Born: 1984
- Gender: Male
- Education: 2 years @ Louisville Technical Institution
- Occupation: Professional Disc Golfer
I have had a plethora of careers in my lifetime thus far. Throughout my school years I did HVAC Installation. To start off my Professional Experience in adulthood I served in the United States Air Force. Following my time in the military, I went to Louisville Technical Institute to gain a degree in computer graphics design. After college, I became the lead vocalist of a touring band and after that journey finalized, I pursued band management with outstanding outcomes. During this time, I gained the courage to follow my dreams of Professional Disc Golf, so switching over to restaurant management was a smart decision to give me more time to work on fine tuning my skills. While managing the restaurant a few buddies and myself founded Heartland Disc Golf Club. I now tour the country playing Professional Disc Golf.
Disc Golf Experience
27 years of playing disc golf. 17 years of competitive PDGA play.
My childhood weekends were spent at Otter Creek Park, in Brandenburg, Kentucky playing disc golf with my dad. I fell in love with the game quickly. At the age of 15 I became fully engulfed in the sport and began studying it inside and out. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by legends of the game, Dr. Rick Voakes, and Dave Greenwell. After seeing their talents, I knew I wanted to spend every moment I could on the disc golf course.
In 2001, I started a high school disc golf club. We grew rapidly gaining over 20 teenagers playing in our weekly leagues ran by Zilla Sports and Louisville Disc Golf Club.
I’ve ran PDGA events, weekly leagues, local series tournaments, raised countless of dollars, given free clinics, given fundraising money to charities, founded Heartland DGC in central Kentucky and still find time to tour as a professional Disc Golfer. I’ve won 17 PDGA events, including the Madisonville Open, A tier. I have had some sweet wins but have loss ten times as many. I love our game and never see myself doing anything else. I quit playing for a few years to find something else, but Disc Golf always pulled me back. As I realized Disc Golf was calling my name so often, I decided I had to be involved again and had to throw on a course and get back on the wagon that I had fell off so long ago. Now I’ve never been happier as I travel the country with my lady and pup doing what I’ve always dreamt of doing. Playing Disc Golf.
While I love the competition and love the challenge, my favorite thing about our game is the people involved and the personalities you meet along the way. One word comes to mind – FAMILY.
Love and passion for the sport is what brought us all together playing this wonderful sport and It is what I plan to bring to the PDGA Board. Our participants have skyrocketed; causing to have a moment of growing pains. With insight and innovation, we can gain more respect for the PDGA and the players to gain things as bigger sponsors. For this to occur, the rules that have been put in place should be followed. With proper steps and standards set in place, those rules will be able to be followed with ease, which would raise the bar for the professional side of the game, while keeping us as we historically have been, amateur-driven.
I want to represent the players. Professional and Amateur. Men and Women. I would like to become the voice and ear for all players and sport. With council and commitment, Disc Golf can and will reach new heights. Players need to voice their opinions. What better way to get a direct answer when you have one person helping get the answers you seek. Our players know our game the best, I want to listen to the players and find out every inch of the game they feel is the best and the worst.
I would like to see stronger qualifications for our tournament directors, such as:
- a longer more difficult test
- Training Videos:
- How to properly raise money, gather sponsors, practice TD reports, work with volunteers.
For our sport to be taken seriously, our tournament directors should also be professional. If we set every TD up for success, our sport will prosper one step at a time.
Implementing some smart steps will allow our sport will grow rapidly, gain bigger sponsors and in turn will grow the sport for juniors and the future of our game immensely. I used to dream of being a professional disc golfer as a kid, now I dream for the kids to want to play disc golf. Step with Trevor for a voice, an ear and let’s make big things happen..
Justin Menickelli #31347
- Location: Cullowhee, NC
- Born: 1968
- Gender: Male
- Ph.D. in Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, 2003
- M.A.Ed. in Physical Education, Western Carolina University, 1995
- B.S. in Exercise Science, S.U.N.Y. Cortland, 1991
- Occupation: College Professor
Associate professor of Kinesiology, Western Carolina University, 1999 - present. Responsible for teaching courses in motor behavior, sport psychology, research methods, and beginning disc golf.
Disc Golf Experience
- PDGA Board of Directors, 2015-present (Elected President in 2017)
- Authored this article about the PDGA disciplinary process
- Developed the Disc Golfer’s Code
- Allocated $35,000 worth of bonus money for the PDGA National Tour
- Helped to improve the Junior Divisions
- Authored The Definitive Guide to Disc Golf
- Smashboxx Ep. 197 (36:25),
- PDGA Radio Ep. 6 (36:28),
- Smashboxx Ep. 137 (58:50),
- Disc Golf Answer Man Ep. 139,
- Zen Disc Golf Ep. 30,
- Disc Golf Answer Man Ep. 122 (50:37),
- and Yahoo Sports Radio
- Published this scientific article and this popular press article about the benefits of disc golf
- Designed this course and others for public schools
- Prior to be elected to the BOD, I authored many successful grants to support disc golf projects, including this one and this one
- Bestowed the PDGA/EDGE Award in 2014
- Transitioned from competitive Ultimate to disc golf in 2004
I would like to serve the members of the PDGA for a second term as a dedicated player representative. Please click on the links under Disc Golf Experience to discover more about my life as a passionate disc golf advocate. As a member of the BOD, I pledge to keep working hard to help make disc golf a sustainable and vibrant sport of the future. My focus is on bringing disc golf to schools, improving the media coverage at our premier events, welcoming more clubs into the PDGA family, providing diverse membership opportunities, continuing to improve our technological tools for players and TD’s, and growing the sport for women and girls. Thank you for your consideration. May birdies always be in your future.
Mike Sullivan #68783
- Location: Springfield, VA
- Born: 1980
- Gender: Male
- Education: J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 2011. B.A., History, George Mason University, 2008
- Occupation: Attorney
Solo Practitioner, 2013-present; Fellow, U.S. House of Representatives Office of General Counsel, 2011-12; Retail Management, Bed Bath and Beyond, 2004-2008
Disc Golf Experience
I now TD roughly 10-12 events and leagues per year; CFO, NOVA Disc Golf Ass'n, 2014-17; General Counsel, NOVA Disc Golf Ass'n, 2018. Team MVP - 12/17-present.
I’ve spent 15 years playing and enjoying disc golf, and five years running dozens of PDGA and other events as one of the directors of the NOVA Disc Golf Association. As an attorney, I rely on analytical problem-solving combined with a determination of the best and most likely outcomes of a given situation in order to accomplish my goals. I believe both of these aspects of my background and career will serve me well if I am fortunate enough to be selected to represent you and your interests on the PDGA Board of Directors. I have developed a platform focusing on three areas where I believe I can best assist the PDGA’s mission: (1) growth; (2) transparency; and (3) division adjustments.
(1) Growth. Our sport has grown more rapidly in the last five years than in the preceding thirty-five, but continued growth will become a challenge unless we commit to broadening our player base. For example, women are roughly half the population, but closer to 7-10% of organized disc golf. No single piece of the population represents more potential growth. People of color are similarly underrepresented.
The beauty of our sport is that anyone can play it. The PDGA can assist our clubs and communities in making sure we have the type of environment where anyone feels welcome to participate by using a “Know The Code” blueprint: as we strive to be our best in our interactions with the public and parks, so should we strive to be our best to each other while maintaining our commitment to friendly, but serious, competition. We are all in this together.
(2) Transparency. The PDGA, early this year, saw the effects of a lack of transparency and a failure to seek feedback from its members in the reactions to CM 1.10(A) and the expanded smoking ban. Both proposals had serious issues with enforceability and increased the burden on already hard-working TDs that could have been identified ahead of time by seeking public comment from members about changes that are under serious consideration, rather than having these mistakes pointed out afterward in the court of social media, forcing an embarrassing retraction.
I also have concerns about the disciplinary process. There appears to be no information about what criteria or precedent is used to determine length of suspensions. If people don’t know the potential punishment for their actions, it doesn’t serve as an effective deterrent. If these things are just done on a case-by-case basis, how do we know that punishments are being evenly and fairly applied? I intend to examine the current disciplinary procedures and identify any due process concerns that could cause problems for the organization or unfairness toward its members.
(3) Divisions. I believe the divisional rating ranges currently are structured well. The larger problem, especially in older and more established disc golf scenes, is the resistance to using the lowest Mixed Amateur divisions in competition (and their Female Amateur counterparts). This mostly seems due to the names attached: people are resistant to the idea that someone who plays in multiple tournaments – even if they’re squarely in the proper ratings range – is a “recreational” or “novice” player. However, there are plenty of players who may gladly and seriously compete, but never reach a 900 rating. They aren’t “rec” or “novice” players by any dictionary definition, but they certainly belong in –A3 and –A4 divisions.
This is a problem we can and should solve with judicious rebranding. Competition is at its most fun and intense when people of similar skill levels are playing against one another (for example, no one wants to watch me play LeBron in one-on-one, and it wouldn’t be rewarding for us, either: too easy for him, too out-of-reach for me). Facilitating situations where people of similar skill level can compete with one another results in great disc golf experiences, win or lose.
Thank you for considering my candidacy. If elected, I look forward to representing your interests with the same passion and dedication I have brought to running tournaments, running a club, and representing clients in the courtroom.
Danny Voss #45698
- Location: Orlando, FL
- Born: 1988
- Gender: Male
- Education: B.A. in English – Linguistics, Writing, Rhetoric NC State
- Occupation: Director of Marketing | Energy Air
My vision is to use my professional experience to help local clubs grow their grassroots efforts by serving as a marketing resource; helping them grow their club membership and to attain sponsorships for events and course construction. Additionally, I will work to support the PDGA’s goal of growing the sport at the highest level by identifying top-tier sponsors and partners to take disc golf to the “next level.”
I will bring more than 7 years of experience in marketing and business development to the PDGA Board of Directors. Currently I work as the Director of Marketing for Energy Air, a large HVAC contractor in Central Florida. I direct our overall digital, print, and interpersonal marketing strategies as well as develop future initiatives based upon company analytics and market research.
Earlier in my career, I worked as a Grant Writer and Campaign Coordinator for a company that provides contracted resources for 501c3 organizations. I worked to assist nonprofit organizations with IRS determination filings, providing grant solicitation materials, and researching grant-making organizations relative to the clients’ charitable practices.
Disc Golf Experience
My first time on the course was in 2003. Disc golf was a way to slow down and enjoy time with friends. In 2010, I registered with the PDGA ahead of my first tournament, the 2010 Orlando Open. Since then I have played in a variety of tournaments from local B-Tiers to amazing opportunities like the first USDGC Performance Flight in 2011, 2012 – 2015 Am Worlds, USADGC in 2015, 2017 USDGC Doubles, and the NextGen National Final in 2017.
It’s been exciting to see our sport grow in the time since I’ve been a member. With the advent of great content creators sharing footage of tournaments and manufacturers making leaps in production and marketing, now is the time for disc golf to grow further and make a big impact on the greater national and global stages. I’m excited to contribute my experience on the course and in the office to this goal.
I am excited for the opportunity to add my professional experience and passion for disc golf to the PDGA Board.
As a member of the board, my vision is to support the growth of the sport along two avenues:
Local clubs, TDs, and players are the foundation upon which the sport is built. As the authority in disc golf, the PDGA should develops sanctioned collateral and best practices to share with local clubs to support their sponsorship and growth efforts. I believe this will help local groups grow their membership and find sponsorships and donations for tournaments and course construction.
Taking the sport’s highest level into the global spotlight will create the opportunity for the large scale sponsorships needed to evolve the reputation, scope, and reach of the sport. Building PDGA Majors into top-tier sports events that transcend our sport and exist as must-see events will take time but will produce benefits through all levels of the sport and for the PDGA.
I’m very excited to give my talents as an experienced marketer and to work to take the sport we all love into the next level.
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