The effectiveness of a golf related resiliency training programme on the mental & physiological health of adolescence within the Carmarthenshire area of Wales

Carmarthen Golf Club

Student: Hamish Cox, Cardiff Metropolitan University
Company Partner: Carmarthen Golf Club
Academic Supervisor: Professor Sheldon Hanton

The Student Perspective

by Hamish Cox, Cardiff Metropolitan University

The main thing that attracted me to KESS was the ability to continue at postgraduate level and undertake a piece of in-depth research. Following my undergraduate studies I firstly completed a postgraduate diploma in psychology and then progressed to the Masters in Sports Psychology. I really enjoyed the research element of the post-graduate work and KESS has given me the opportunity to carry on researching in the area for which I have a great deal of passion.

The Project

The main aim of the project is to develop teenager’s life skills; this is achieved through the creation of an intervention programme in partnership with Carmarthen Golf Club.

The main need for the project was highlighted in the Carmarthenshire County Council brief for health and wellbeing and community 2011-14. Essentially the local authority is working proactively ensuring that young people are ready for the future so that they can thrive in adulthood. The local authority found that older teenagers/ young adults are struggling with the stresses and demands of modern life and that their health and wellbeing has suffered as a consequence.

The golf club strive to be an integrated club within the community; through working with the local schools on this intervention programme we have taken steps towards achieving this. In collaboration, we have a wider unofficial number of project partners including Rathbone U.K., and LaunchPad as well as the support of the sports development officers within the local authority, this added credibility to the project and what we are trying to achieve.

One of the aims from the beginning of the project was to develop it over the longer term, the nature of the research lends itself to longer term analysis and impact; measuring transfer of life skills from sport to other environments.

Moving forward, the next step is to develop the intervention programme further and make it applicable to a wider audience. We are going to specifically target a number of niche groups within Carmarthenshire. Women in sports are not only on the agenda of the local authority but that of Sports Wales and the Welsh Government. An additional element to the programme we are exploring is to validate the course so that the young people who attend come out the other side with a recognisable qualification; this is something that they can add to their CV.

Public Engagement

We’ve been very lucky in that the work that we are doing in the collaboration has attracted press attention; we’ve been interviewed on BBC Radio Wales and appeared on ITV Wales.

Academically I have presented in a number of conferences, most recently the British Psychological Society in December 2013. In October of this year I will present at the Association of Applied Sport Psychology conference, taking place in Las Vegas, as well as the University of Illinois at Chicago, as a guest speaker.

Personal Development

I think that being able to work with a company partner whilst doing the research is an invaluable experience; it has certainly prepared me for my future. I realised early on during the project that I would need to be wearing two hats, one for what the company were expecting to get from the project and the other the expectations of the university. In light of this, one of the key skills that I have developed is negotiation and being able to manage people’s expectations.

Essentially during a KESS PhD you are project managing both yourself and the partnership. The PSDA has leant itself to supporting me through the PhD, I’ve had a budget that has meant that I’ve been able to attend workshops that have helped tremendously through gaining skills and relevant applied experience.

Career Path

In terms of where I want to go after the PhD I am moving towards a sports and youth development career, building on the work that I am currently doing and expanding the research project to additional sports.

The highlight for me during KESS has been the immense opportunity to network, without KESS I wouldn’t have met these people and developed the extensive network that I now have, I don’t think that I would have had this type of exposure anywhere else.