Wentworth ClubhouseThe jewel in the European Tour’s crown has been at the heartbeat of European golf for decades.

Wentworth is an unforgettable place to play golf and is one of those venues that almost rivals St Andrews in the strength of its allure. The West, East and Edinburgh courses are all magnificent, the clubhouse facilities are a rival for any in the country, and golf breaks in this beautiful part of Surrey, less than an hour from both Heathrow and the lights of London, are guaranteed to live long in the memory. Even better, you can include a round or two here in an itinerary taking in great venues such as Sunningdale, Walton Heath, Foxhills (which has superb accommodation), Mannings Heath and Gatton Manor, all of which are within easy reach.

Wentworth’s West Course is a formidable beast indeed. It has produced some unforgettable golf championships, where the cream of the world’s golfing talent have clashed spectacularly over a stunning layout that, like Augusta National, was designed to emphasise risk and reward and produce drama and excitement at key moments.

The West Course has played host to the BMW PGA Championship since 1984 and will do so again this year, from May 26-29. This year’s event could be one of the best yet with all four reigning Major champions in the field – Charl Schwartzel (Masters), Martin Kaymer (US PGA), Louis Oosthuizen (Open) and Graeme McDowell (US Open) – and they will be pushed all the way, no doubt, by Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, who are in the form of their lives.

But will they manage to rival Paul Casey? In the 2009 BMW PGA Championship, when he won his milestone 10th event on the European Tour at an amazing 17-under-par, one stroke better than Wentworth resident and fellow Englishman Ross Fisher.  Both players produced some of the finest ball-striking and scoring this challenging course has ever witnessed and nails were bitten to the quick until the very last hole. Casey managed to get up and down from the greenside bunker at the 18th to finish with a birdie to win by a single stroke over Fisher, who’d closed with a 64, one shot outside the course record.

It was the sort of climax that Wentworth has become known for over the years. Back in the 1960s, Gary Player was in his prime and, competing in the Piccadilly World Matchplay Championship in 1965 he, incredibly, fought back from seven down after 19 holes to beat Tony Lema at the first extra hole (37th) in the semi-final.

The semi-final of the Piccadilly in 1972 was nearly as good. Only a few months after Lee Trevino had cruelly chipped in at the penultimate hole to deny Tony Jacklin a second Open Championship victory, the two players met again at Wentworth. Trevino played brilliantly in the morning, lunching 4 up, but Jacklin stormed back in the afternoon in 63 strokes – only to lose to a Trevino birdie on the final hole!

Wentworth WestIn 1983, the first round of the Suntory World Matchplay event saw the mouthwatering clash of Seve Ballesteros taking on Arnold Palmer ­– you can imagine the crowds! Seve, two down with two holes to play, won the 17th hole, then at the last skirted his first and second shots round the trees just short of the green. With Palmer relatively close to the pin at the back of the green in three, Seve typically chipped in for an eagle three and went on to win at the third extra hole.

The 1998 Cisco World Matchplay Final pitted two great champions against each other too, in the form of Mark O’Meara, the Masters and Open Champion, and world number one, Tiger Woods. O’Meara came from 4-down to dramatically clinch victory on the 18th green. Then in 2002 Colin Montgomerie faced his old nemesis, Ernie Els, in the second round of the Cisco. Montgomerie’s day could be summed up by the fact that his 65 (7 under-par) in the morning was good enough only to be four DOWN against Els. The South African had a round of 60, with a mixture of brilliant approach shots and putts.

Ironically, Els’ redesign of the West Course will probably prevent such a low-scoring round occurring again. The re-worked 18th green, with water in front and a raised putting surface, is the most prominent of the new features that have helped ensure Wentworth remains both one of the world’s most exciting courses to play and to watch the world’s best tour players in action.