THERE’S only one drawback to the 150th Open Championship coming home to the birthplace of golf at St Andrews. It can all be a little bit much for the famous Scots town.

The PGA Tour and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews like to keep track of how many visitors flood into the eastern-coast enclave when it hosts The Open – whether to attend the tournament or just to absorb the atmosphere. Tournament organisers and local authorities expect more than an additional 200,000 people will be St Andrews-bound between yesterday and Sunday.

Fortunately, the seaside town of North Berwick, about 90 minutes away, offers travelling golf lovers the chance to explore excellent courses and natural wonders in close proximity to one another. In fact, the links enthusiast would be hard pressed to find a better concentration of golf experiences so near each other anywhere in the entire UK.

A prime base of operations for golf-centric visitors to the town is the Marine North Berwick, a luxury hotel adjacent to North Berwick Golf Club. While the current club was founded in 1832, there’s been a golf course there since the 17th century. The North Berwick West Course nuzzles up again the Firth of Forth and plays host to everything from qualifying events for The Open Championship to Scotland’s amateur championships.

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The hotel has 84 guest rooms and its swimming pool, fitness centre, spa, two restaurants, bar and tea room give the non-golfer plenty to do while players battle the bunkers. The hotel bar provides pub-friendly lunch dishes, while the restaurant smartens up for gourmet fare by night. Booking 18 holes at the North Berwick Club can prove difficult with its national prominence – but that’s only a good reason to venture out to the area’s other courses.

A short cab ride from Marine North Berwick, Gullane Golf Club includes three courses spread out over East Lothian. With a golfing history dating back to 1650, Course No 1 is Gullane’s star attraction with the PGA ranking it as one of the five most beautiful golf courses in the world alongside legendary spots such as Augusta National and Pebble Beach. A true links-style course unveiling stirring views of the North Sea, Gullane No 1 really proves its worth on its back nine.

From holes 10 through 18, the course takes on a unique aura. It is removed from everything except happy golfers and singing birds. The 18th returns the golfer to civilisation with a high tee box sweeping back down to the clubhouse for a friendly scoring opportunity. Not far away, the Glen Golf Club also claims a history running back to the 1600s, while its current identity dates back to 1894. Designed by five-time Open champion James Braid (pictured), the relaxed and welcoming par-70 course packs a blend of exciting alleviation changes and challenging weather conditions that demand a player test his or her shot-making abilities.

Any of the Glen Golf Club holes feature inspiring views of the region’s iconic natural feature, Bass Rock,one of the world’s largest seabird habitats with as many as 300,000 gannets, guillemots and puffins calling it home.

If a golfer tires of chips and putts and longs for a look at wildlife, the staff at Marine North Berwick can set up guests with the Scottish Seabird Centre and BlueWild for a sanctioned boat journey around the island’s caves and crags.