Renowned as a major centre for golf, with three championship standard courses in close proximity, the five star Gleneagles Hotel sits in the heart of the rolling countryside of Perthshire north of the Scottish city of Stirling. Fittingly on the event’s return to British shores after several forays abroad, the venue was one well known to the Federation, in that two previous Conventions have been held in its majestic surroundings.
Stirling provided the venue for the opening dinner of the event when the delegates descended on the renovated Great Hall in the heart of Stirling Castle to enjoy a fine meal in the medieval atmosphere of the Hall after watching a display of martial arts– and a lesson in donning the Great Kilt - in the courtyard before the hall.
Prior to the evening, numerous members of the Federation took on the challenge of the King’s Course at Gleneagles, scene of a number of Scottish Open Golf Championships, and the course proved no respecter of position, as the NFDC president found out on the 14th hole, when a bunker proved more than a little challenging to get out of.
While lurking out of sight of the golfers in an attempt to avoid disturbing their composure by taking photographs of them in action, in the space of 10 minutes in an area no more than 10 square metres in extent, I retrieved no less than 15 golf balls that had been fired into the heather and given up for lost – an indication of the King’s Course challenge.
When the NFDC contingent came round, through the viewfinder one golfer was seen to launch his ball directly towards the camera, which was hidden in a copse of trees. The ball duly clattered into the trees a few feet above my head and dropped into the heather a few feet away. The golfer concerned assumed the ball was lost and hit a second provisional shot. He was somewhat surprised as he approached the spot the camera was located to see me step out of the trees, point to a clump of heather and say: “Your ball is there, but you are not going to like the lie!”
Saturday saw the usual half year business meeting, after which delegates had an informal meal in the hotel. The major social gathering of the event was the black tie Gala Dinner on the Saturday night, with attendees being piped into the dining room by the son of the NFDC president, David Sinclair, following a cocktail reception. Continuing the Scottish theme, David Sinclair (senior) made the address to the haggis in the presence of his grandson (who did not have whiskey in his glass when the toast was made).
The evening was rounded off by entertainment from the Red Hot Chili Pipers, who were joined on stage by young David Sinclair, following his escape from school at Fettes College for the weekend – no mean feat in itself.
The event was brought to a close on the Sunday night with an informal dinner at the hotel, where once again the excellent food and service was a delight.