It is not every day that you see a HK$100,000 chip being placed on one bet, but gambling neophyte Ian Poulter, urged on by an entourage of hangers-on, had the gumption to do just that plus another HK$10,000 chip on red at one of the high-roller rooms at the Venetian Resort Hotel last Sunday. Poulter, the defending Hong Kong Open champion, was in Macau for the final leg of a novel experiment by Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Marc Boggia, whose idea of a golf swing through China featuring some of the world's top players proved persuasive to property developer Vincent Lo. And so was born the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge, a seven-day, seven-city swing through the mainland, featuring world number two Lee Westwood, US Open champion Rory McIlroy, China number one Liang Wenchong and Poulter. No way did it resemble a proper tournament. Rather, it was a made-for-television jaunt where the players were under the spotlight both on and off the various courses - from the Shanghai Pudong Golf Course to Caesars Golf Macau. It was a reality TV show filmed by sporting monolith IMG. Even though the players had a couple of Bombardier jets to fly them from city to city - Shanghai to Zhengzhou to Beijing to Dalian to Chongqing to Dongguan, and lastly to Macau - Westwood and company labelled it as one of the most tiring weeks they had undergone in their professional lives. This was due to the hectic schedule, where they played two or three holes at each course and then had to figure in all the other behind-the-scenes activities including playing in pro-ams, taking part in sponsors' lunches and dinners and signing autographs. 'I have never signed so many autographs. My wrist needs a physio for a week,' said Westwood, partly in jest. Westwood and the rest of the players all voted the trip an unqualified success, so much so that the Englishman is now thinking of coming back next year for a similar exercise, but with the slight twist of involving more of the mainland's junior players in the programme. If this inaugural year was a success as far as raising the profile of the sport in China, the aim next year is to put in place a lasting legacy where young golfers could be inspired to pursue a career after rubbing shoulders with the stars. Westwood and Liang have already talked about giving more time to the younger generation and they are supported by McIlroy and Poulter. If this occurs, then the 2011 trip, seen initially as nothing more than a PR exercise for sponsors Shui On Land, might have been the start of something good for the game in China. Billionaire Lo, a passionate golfer who once said that people aspiring to do business in China should pack their golf clubs too, has wide interests on the mainland. Known commonly as Mr Shanghai - he is one of the biggest property developers in China and his Xintiandi development in Shanghai is a prime entertainment spot - Lo made no bones of the fact that the golf swing would help raise the profile of his company. 'It was a great idea. I knew it would be popular on television, especially if we could capture the interaction of the players,' said Lo. And there was plenty of interaction if reading the Twitter accounts of the players is anything to go by. As Westwood said: 'We were living in each other's pockets and at the end of the week we had become close.' Rated by Forbes as one of the richest men in Hong Kong - his net worth is estimated at US$2.3 billion - it is no surprise that Lo knew he was on to a good thing. The televised version of the China swing will be shown in 42 countries with a reach of 884 million viewers. What better way to publicise his company. With the Hong Kong Open in its final year of association with blue-chip sponsor UBS, we asked Lo if he would perhaps consider backing the oldest professional sporting event in this city next year, now that he had been involved in a golf event for the first time. 'I don't think an ordinary type of golf tournament would interest me. This has all been about raising the profile of China, and introducing China to the world,' Lo said. A pity, for the Hong Kong Open could do with a benefactor like Lo. Hopefully, he might change his mind in the next few months as this event needs a sponsor with deep pockets. And talking of deep pockets, every top golfer has one. So it was no big deal for Poulter to place those chips on red. In the first place, it was money from the casino itself. The players decided that Poulter would bet the chips and the Englishman - in James Bond mode - went for roulette. The ball fell on black 11. The collective groan around the table summed up the feeling.