Visitors to St Andrews who look as if they are studying their yardages in the graveyard could well be embroiled in one of the town’s Treasure Trail adventures. There are three on offer, with the first, a Murder Mystery, which begins with a suitably alarming scene-setter.
“Fans of the famous mystery writer, Paige Turner, have been dealt a devastating blow…. Days ago, in advance of a book signing in St Andrews, a local newspaper received an anonymous letter accusing Paige of plagiarism. This tale took a dark turn this morning, with police announcing that poor Paige was found collapsed in a bunker, much like the victim in her latest book…”
It sounds intriguing, especially with the poor woman having met with what was patently a worse fate than Tommy Nakajima, the 23-year-old Japanese golfer who was leading the 1978 Open until he putted into the Road Hole bunker in his third round. He ended up with a nine, a number with which he has always been associated ahead of his highly creditable share of 17th place.
Paige Turner, apparently, had foreseen her demise and written down a list of suspects and clues via which “Trainee detectives,” as the Treasure Trail company refers to its clients, are asked to demonstrate their problem-solving skills by answering “20 sneaky clues.” For the purposes of working out how much money to put in the parking meter, two hours are expected to suffice.
Notwithstanding the fact that Paige’s bunker would have been out of commission for a few days, members of the R&A would probably be more alarmed at the sound of the Spy Mission trail:
“St Andrews attracts all the good golf championships, leaving Scotland’s other golf venues fuming. But one club has taken their rivalry to the extreme by hiring enemy spy organisation TEES (Totally Evil Espionage Society). TEES’ operatives have been prowling around the bunkers planting devices that, once detonated, will spray concrete all around. St Andrew’s will become a giant skate park…
“We need you,” it continues, “to solve the clues and crack the code before this famous golfing landmark meets a very bleak end.”
Treasure Trails never started out as a business idea. Instead, it all began in Cornwall in 2005 when Steve Ridd, an army major who was approaching retirement, devised a treasure trail for a local charity event. So well did it go down that someone entered it for the Cornwall Tourism Business Awards where it won silver. It collected gold the following year. Today more than a million people up and down the UK have done one or more of the company’s adventures, all of which are priced £9.99. (treasuretrails.co.uk)
A golfing friend of mine surprised himself with the extent to which he became wrapped up in the Murder Mystery. Furthermore, he had enjoyed going to bed that night with the thought that he might win £100 in the Treasure Trail monthly draw instead of tossing and turning about his failure to break 90 over the Old Course for the umpteenth time.
All three of the St Andrews’ adventures feature a mix of town and golf clues. That GGP were asked to give nothing away seemed sensible enough, and not least because it spared your correspondent the embarrassment of sending people down the wrong alley.
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However, the extent of the company’s feedback material is enough to suggest that a Treasure Trail experience is comfortably on a par with any of the other non-golf pastimes on offer, these including a trip to the R&A’s Golf Museum, a walk along the beach and a visit to the town’s diverse art galleries and very special eateries.
Herewith a report from a couple who had taken heed of Treasure Trails’ light-hearted observation that children are not compulsory.
“It was an amazing experience my partner and I will never forget. It let us explore and learn more about St Andrews. I learnt things I never even knew about St Andrews and I even live here. Would certainly recommend and will definitely be trying one of the other trails.” (The two had completed the Spy Mission edition).
That couple could have done their treasure trail any time during the past year on the grounds that they would have been able to observe all the necessary COVID-19 regulations. However, a larger group who must have embarked on their experience before the lockdowns, commented on how even the teenagers in their number had been up for the entertainment.
“It got us all out and exploring, especially with the thought that we could win a prize.” The same family added that their puzzle had been hard enough to keep them engaged and that, even without much prospect of a prize, they had revelled in doing something which involved parents, adults and cousins.
Which brings us to the question as to whether some of the more traditional members of the R&A will soon be coming up for their spring and autumn meetings with children and grandchildren in tow – and maybe even joining them for a Treasure Trail experience.
That, of course, is no more than a bit of mischievous thinking.
Top: Map of Old Course, St Andrews (Sarah Fabian-Baddiel, Heritage Images/Getty Images)
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