Ru Macdonald - Scottish Golf Podcast show

Ru Macdonald - Scottish Golf Podcast

Summary: Planning a Scotland golf trip? Ru Macdonald inspires & educates golfers one episode at a time.

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 Episode 68 – 18 Things You Didn’t Know About St Andrews | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 44:54

On the morning of the 144th Open Championship at The Home of Golf, St Andrews Ru Macdonald & Graylyn Loomis share some of the lesser known intricacies of the 'Auld Grey Town'. 1. St Andrews, Not The Home of Golf? Musselburgh Links, south of Edinburgh in 1672 lays claim to being the unofficial home of golf. Reports even claim Mary Queen of Scots played here as early as 1567. 2. St Andrews Golf Course, Which one? The term 'playing St Andrews' is banded about but in fact the town is home to 7 golf courses, one of which is the Old Course where the Open Championship is played. 3. St Andrews Golf Club Graylyn explains that the courses in St Andrews is enjoyed by a number of clubs in the town all having access to the course. No exclusivity, joining fee or bar levy required. 4. Local Links Ticket The best value ticket in golf. Local St Andrew residence are granted a links ticket when affiliated to one of the afore mentioned clubs. For around £700 annually locals can play all 7 courses including the Old Course. 5. Golfing Military Personnel    The now inactive RAF base at neighbouring Leuchars would see active service personnel get very favourable local rates and an out of town Links ticket allowing them access to the course. 6. It's a Public Course Come Monday morning the course reopens to the public at the cost of £170 a round. A total of 45,000 rounds take place on the course annually and a total of 230,000 over the 7 courses. 7. Sunny St Andrews Graylyn points out that the weather in St Andrews while not South Carolina summer is actually quite pleasant. The town sits within one of the sunniest regions in the whole of Scotland. 8. New Course is Old The New Course which lies within view of the Old Course was commissioned by the R&A and designed by Tom Morris in 1895 in an attempt to manage the growing popularity of the Old Course. 8.1 R&A Members Have Right of Way As part of the agreement the members of the R&A even to this day have the right of way when playing the New Course. 9. Jigger Challenge  Students of St Andrews University often partake in the tradition of a late evening round on the Old Course and before playing 18 pop into the Jigger Inn, left of the 17th fairway and own and ran by the Old Course Hotel. Participants then drink as much points as they think they'll need to play the last and if they fail, they do it all again. Please drink responsibly. 10. St Andrews Cathedral  One of Europe's largest and most sacred pilgrimage sights, the impressive ruin of the 12th centenary St Andrews Cathedral located on the south end of town was torn down during the protestant reformation in 1560, 11. University of St Andrews One of the Europe's oldest Universities and the third in the UK, academia has always been a part of the town's unique culture. With 8,000 students and past graduates including Prince William it remains very prestigious. 12. Closed on Sundays Not many know the Old Course actually closes on Sundays and is replaced by the public enjoying the links for other recreational pursuits. 13. Not Always 18 Holes Tom Morris was integral to the evolution of golf in the town which included converting the 22 hole format into the conventional 18 holes as we see it today. The course was also played anticlockwise to help spread the wear on the links. 14. Bunkers  Famous St Andrews bunkers include Hell, Coffin and perhaps best known Road Hole Bunker which make up the 112 bunkers on the course. Only two holes remain bunkerless - 1 & 18. 15. Hamilton Grand  Graylyn shares one of the iconic landmarks on the town's skyline, Hamilton Grand formerly known as Hamilton Hall. Read more here. 16. St Andrews Castle  The final landmark Graylyn shares is St Andrews Castle which was built back over 450 years ago and proved to be a key location during the protestan...

 Episode 67 – The Undiscovered Links of the Highlands with Jason Scott Deegan | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 41:03

Jason Scott Deegan is a senior travel writer for Golf Channel's Golf Advisor and has returned home after a mammoth week of golf in the Scottish Highlands. The purpose of the trip was simple and is summed up perfectly by Jason on the foreword of his detailed trip review on the Golf Advisor website. Frankly, I got more satisfaction from discovering the links without much fanfare than I did checking off bucket-list destinations. Every country club member with a fat wallet and a can-do attitude about golf travel sees Dornoch and Trump. I like being different, seeing more and experiencing golf beyond the well worn path traversed by most Americans. The game is so pure at Brora and Fraserburgh Golf Club and Tain Golf Club. It's not about how long the courses are or which tournament they're hosting next. It's about interesting and unique golf holes in the dunes, simple as that. Tuesday May 26, 2015 Arrive into Edinburgh Airport. Transfers to Aberdeenshire Afternoon lunch and 18 hole at Cruden Bay   Wednesday May 27, 2015 Morning tee times at Trump International Afternoon tee times at Murcar Links   Thursday May 28, 2015 Morning tee times at Fraserburgh Afternoon tee times at Newburgh on Ythan Friday, May 29, 2015 Morning departure for Nairn Afternoon 18 at Nairn – 2pm & 2.10pm Tee Off   Saturday, May 30, 2015 Morning 18 at Castle Stuart   Sunday, May 31, 2015 Morning 18 on Struie Course at Royal Dornoch Afternoon 18 on Championship Course at Royal Dornoch   Monday, June 1, 2015 Mid-morning 18 at Brora   Tuesday, June 2, 2015 Mid-morning 18 at Tain Late-afternoon departure back to St. Andrews area   Wednesday June 3, 2015 Morning tee times at Kingsbarns Transfer to Edinburgh for overnight accommodation Thursday June 4, 2015 Transfers to Edinburgh Airport and flights home Put @TainGolfClub on your next golf trip to the Highlands @VisitScotGolf @VisitScotland — Jason Scott Deegan (@WorldGolfer) June 9, 2015 Scotland's golf gorse in glorious bloom #VisitScotland2015 @VisitScotland @AlanGrant79 @DavidConnorGolf @GolfAdvisor — Jason Scott Deegan (@WorldGolfer) May 29, 2015

 Episode 66 – Tom Morris Day | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 19:00

#TomMorrisDay marks what would have been Tom Morris' 194th birthday and celebrated on episode 66 of the Scottish Golf Podcast. Morris single-handedly help transport the game of golf around the world and in the process help create some of the world's most renowned links golf courses. Our regular co-host and friend Graylyn Loomis in detail shares Morris' upbringing on his website,  "At age fourteen he began his apprenticeship in Allan Robertson’s golf shop, and his involvement with the game escalated from that point. He quickly made a name for himself as one of the best golfers in St Andrews and became famous for winning money matches across the links." - Four-time Open Champion (1861, 1862, 1864, 1867) - Oldest Open Champion (46) - Golf club & ball maker - Course Architect  (including Old Course, Murifield, Carnousite, Royal Dornoch, Cruden Bay, Prestwick) - Greenkeeper 'Keeper of the greens' - Golf Ambassador - Golf Consultant - Golf Instructor Summed up by another Morris fanatic Melvyn Morrow, "Old Tom loved Golf, he love to see people enjoying themselves on the links playing golf and to that end he spent his whole life promoting the game. What’s more important he offered his services to the development and expansion of the game through his very generous Fee basis of just £1 per day, be it for a survey, design or redesign, in fact many times he advised clubs without taking a fee. Then there is his contribution to the worldwide expansion of the Game (little known by the many) in which he recommended and supplied applicants/Professionals (generally from his employment) to positions of influence all around the world." Our thanks goes to 'Tom Morris' for joining us on the podcast. More information on David Joy's services can be found on his website:   SUBSCRIBE TO THE SCOTTISH GOLF PODCAST HERE

 Episode 65 – Living As A Links Golfer In St Andrews | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:09

On this week's episode First Year St Andrews University student Liam Frean joins Ru Macdonald & Graylyn Loomis to talk St Andrews in the run up to the 2015 Open Championship. Liam recently took on the now coveted role as the Living As A Links Golfer writing detailed accounts of his time in St Andrews. As a keen golfer, growing up and discovering the game in South Africa the next few years will hopefully prove to be an eye opening and enjoyable submergence at the very core of the game. For all the information on Gralyn's website including the new Scotland Golf Trip Planner visit I am extremely excited to announce the launch of the Scottish Golf Trip Planner on the site! — Graylyn Loomis (@grayloomis) May 21, 2015 Graylyn decided to ship his golf clubs from his home in South Carolina to New York using Luggage Forward. Tom Coyne, is on the final third of his mammoth journey around Scotland which will be the basis for his next book, A Course Called the Kingdom which will be published Summer 2016. While the attempt to reconnect with Tom and check-in on his progress failed we can assure listeners that Tom is fighting fit and ready to discover the golfing delights of Scotland's west coast in the days to come. Listen to Tom's interview below; Great day @Covesealinks ! A little gem of a golf course. Played here @RuMacdonald ? Great fun. — Tom Coyne (@coynewriter) May 30, 2015 The podcast began with three-time Open Champion Padraig Harrington sharing his Scotland golf travel experiences. Stay tuned to the podcast as we have a number of well know names joining us in the weeks to come. To avoid missing a word subscribe to the Scottish Golf Podcast. Have a question? Email -

 Episode 64 – A Golf Trip to Scotland with Hickories | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 52:45

Course rater, author, craftsman of the best wooden golf accessories and avid hickory golfer Tim Alpaugh shares his recent golf trip to Scotland played entirely with hickories. Trips to Gullane, North Berwick, Muirfield, Cruden Bay, Royal Dornoch, Brora, Kingarock and St Andrews were matched with stays at some of Scotland's finest golf centric accommodation in the Links House Dornoch, castle visits and distillery tours. Great day with author, hickory enthusiast, course rater & avid podcast listener Tim Alpaugh at Cruden Bay GC. — Scottish GolfPodcast (@ScotGolfPodcast) April 17, 2015 An alternative to the 500 yard par 4s and the 200 yard par 3s is Scotland's 6000 yard classic golf courses and a set of hickory clubs. As advances in golf equipment become more telling Tim's recent journey is one that should inspire you to pick up your own hickory club sometime soon, I know I will. For your own trsel sticks, diviot tool or anything hickory contact Tim via email: Claret Dreams: Historic Hickories in the Modern British Open

 Episode 63 – Ran Morrissett (Golf Club Atlas) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 53:27

Ran Morrissett, founder of Golf Club Atlas; a thriving community for fans of golf course architecture joined resident co-hosts Ru Macdonald & Graylyn Loomis to share his knowledge on a range of topical issues in the Scottish golf landscape and of course his hints and tips for a golf trip to Scotland. During a candid interview Ran started by sharing his earliest memories of golf in Scotland touching on a family golf vacation to Scotland. A memory easily etched on any young American golfer making the maiden trip to Scotland is the iconic sight of the Turnberry Hotel but later visits to Royal Dornoch, St Andrews and Muirfield would go onto realign Ran’s thinking around what makes a true golf course great. This and the many more trips to Scotland thereafter were the catalyst for As any fan of golf course architecture will note, the successful implementation of the modern links courses of Kingsbarns, Castle Stuart and Trump International have seamlessly embedded themselves onto almost every golfer’s list of ‘Scotland Must Plays‘. Somewhat unfairly, Ru went onto ask Ran how he would begin critiquing each one in tern. As a huge fan of Castle Stuart Golf Links Ran also commented on the announcement that Arnold Palmer would lead the design of the second course. Golf architecture that has helped shape course design all over the world (excuse the pun) can be found etched on many of Scotland’s aged classics whether it be the Redan hole at North Berwick or the expansive fairways and greens of the Old Course, St Andrews. Ran talks through his favourite Scottish courses finding time to rave about the authentic golf experience that awaits at Brora and Askernish or the fun and intrigue of Fraserburgh near Cruden Bay. Co-host Graylyn, who admittedly began his love of golf course architecture in much the same way Ran did, visiting Scotland as a late teen this time as a budding student at the University of St Andrews, was keen to quiz Ran on the recent changes to the Old Course by architect Martin Hawtree. Graylyn who at this point was midway through his four year stint in St Andrews was now besotted by the Old Course and would find himself in a front row seat to witness the changes at The Home of Golf. To conclude what was a thrilling 50 minutes Ru asked Ran to share what the eagerly anticipated opening of Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia, Canada will offer golfers and if in fact his time spent in Scotland has influenced it's final design. Our thanks goes to Ran for his time. Check out Golf Club Atlas for all things golf course architecture.

 Episode 62 – Profiling a Visit to Turnberry | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 34:35

Episode 62 – Profiling a Visit to Turnberry

 Episode 61 – Profiling a Visit to Royal Troon | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:16

Our penultimate episode of the winter series focuses on the 2016 Open Championship venue Royal Troon. It is often described as a somewhat underwhelming experiences with the course categorised into six good holes, six average holes and six poor holes but Graylyn argues that such acquisitions are 'nonsense'.  For a closer look around the links at Old Course of Royal Troon check out Graylyn Loomis' Royal Troon course review. Fine conditions over the Old Course today as we prepare to welcome the first golfers of the 2015 visitor season. — Royal Troon Golf (@RoyalTroonGC) April 20, 2015 As discussed on the podcast we recently unearthed this remarkable sand-save from the Postage Stamp 8th at Royal Troon. View here. Stay with us as we continue our winter series profiling Scotland's best links golf courses you will likely visit on a golf vacation to Scotland in 2015. Subscribe on itunes. For Scottish golf course reviews including a St Andrews Story section where golfers are asked to share their visit to St Andrews check out co host Graylyn Loomis' website. If left with any questions don’t hesitate to contact Ru or Graylyn by emailing

 Episode 60 – Tom Coyne’s 105 Scottish Links Courses in 57 Days | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 26:24

Host Ru Macdonald is joined on this week’s episode by best selling author Tom Coyne before he begins the writing process for his next book which takes the form in a less than conventional golf trip to Scotland. A Course Called the Kingdom will tell the story of Coyne’s quest to play 105 UK links in 57 days, from the glamour in competing in a British Open qualifier to the modest journey to the remotest areas of Scotland. The route will have Coyne pass by the well-known haunts of Carnoustie, Turnberry and Kingsbarns while weaving by the mysterious links of Barra, Tain and Buckpool to search out the soul of the game in the places the game began, and find an answer to the eternal question: What is the secret to golf? The prequel to Tom's latest voyage and book was A Course Called Ireland, a story of a walking- averse golfer who treks his way around an entire country, spending sixteen weeks playing every seaside hole in Ireland. If this adventure is anything like that we're sure in for a treat. We hope to hear from Tom mid-way through his journey so stay tuned. Until then you can follow all Tom's progress from his blog A Course Called the Kingdom.

 Episode 59 – Profiling Prestwick Golf Club | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:35

Continuing into Ayrshire for the final leg of our winter series our first stop is Prestwick, home to The Open Championship. When the 2015 Open Championship takes place in July in St Andrews few will even be aware of Prestiwck and it's proud history with the most celebrated tournament in world golf. As the regional Ayrshire Golf states, it was home for the first 11 opens and birthplace of the Open Championship. "The 17th hole is another blind approach to a well bunkered and sloping green. These quirky holes add to the experience and the whole club has an ambience harkening back to the days of Old Tom Morris." A quote from Graylyn Loomis' Prestwick Golf Club Course Review. Visitor times are ample and a caddie very much encouraged. The quirks of Prestwick make for a genuine authentic Scottish golf experience. Green Fee - £150 Weekdays Both Ru & Graylyn had some questions during the episode which Prestwick Golf Club secretary Ken was more than happy to answer. Why did the Open leave Prestwick in 1925?  After 3 rounds an expatriate Scot, Macdonald Smith, was leading – the prospect of a Scots born man winning the Open again after a number of years meant that crowds flocked to the course in their thousands and really the course couldn’t take such a large crowd. This was still in the time before the concept of stewarding existed and spectators got in the way of players. In the event Macdonald Smith faltered in the final round (probably because of the crowds) and ‘Long’ Jim Barnes was the winner. We have photographs in our archive which show how difficult it was for the players to play shots etc. Given the problems with large crowds the Club asked not to host the Open again. The course was still long and challenging enough and in good enough condition but we just had nowhere to accommodate a crowd. Why the relatively low number of members? It is deliberate that we keep the number of Members relatively low – this means that there are always tee times available for Members and also space round the Big Table in the Dining Room for lunch (Graylin will understand that I think). Read up on your history before you visit Prestwick. Check out some of our recommended reading here.

 RIP John Imlay (1937-2015) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:42

It's with great sadness that we learned of John Imlay's sudden passing last week aged 78. John was a wonderful man who gave so much to Scottish golf. I feel very fortunate to have met and later interviewed John at his home in North Berwick last summer. "Scotland is Heaven on Earth" (John Imlay)

 Episode 58 – Travelling to Scotland as a Non Golfer/Couple | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 23:57

Travelling to Scotland is a dream for any fanatical golfer but what's it like for a non golfer? Avid listener of the podcast and golfer Tad Herold got in touch with the below email expressing his willingness to share his recent trip to Scotland last October with his wife Melissa. I wanted to let you know that my wife and I enjoy listening to your Scottish Golf Podcast. It is an enjoyable, well-paced, and information packed podcast that would help anyone contemplating a trip to the Home of Golf. We began listening about two months ago, ironically enough, AFTER our most recent trip to Scotland (which included an unforgettable round at your home course, Cruden Bay). I am taking on board many suggestions for our next trip over. I also wanted to propose a podcast subject for you. You have had a number of podcast episodes regarding "buddy" trips where a group of men come to Scotland to play together. However, to entice another group of potential golf tourist, it might be nice to offer some insights to couples where one is a golfer and the other a non-golfer. That is the case with my wife and I. My wife does not play golf, but I do. In 2013 we toured England, then went to St. Andrews where I played and she explored the town. In October 2014, we returned. During that trip, I played more golf, playing at Fortrose & Rosemarkie, Dornoch, Cruden Bay, and Crail. Then we returned for a weekend at St. Andrews. I think there is a vast market of American men who would love to come to Scotland to play golf, but may find it advantageous to do so with their non-golfing wife. My wife and I are testament that those can, indeed, be wonderful holidays. Many may think that it would be a bad trip for the non-golfing spouse, but my wife would strongly disagree. She has enjoyed herself immensely during our times in Scotland. If you would be interested in doing such an episode, my wife would be very happy to participate. We could give some tips that are specific to couples regarding travel and my wife could talk about off-course activities. It may also be lost on most Americans that, generally speaking, spouses are welcome to join their golfing husband or wife, following them on the course (something my wife did on two occasions). We could also talk about options for the playing spouse playing as a single, playing blindly with another group, or arranging a round with a club member, all options that I have used. The interview with Tad & Melissa is a transparent reality of what a golf trip to Scotland is like with a non golfer or as a couple. So buckle up, take the wife for a road trip, press play on this episode and start the Scottish golf trip propaganda. We'll see the two of you soon. Stay with us as we continue our winter series profiling Scotland's best links golf courses you will likely visit on a golf vacation to Scotland in 2015. Subscribe on itunes. For Scottish golf course reviews including a St Andrews Story section where golfers are asked to share their visit to St Andrews check out co host Graylyn Loomis' website. If left with any questions don’t hesitate to contact Ru or Graylyn by emailing:

 Episode 57 – Gullane Golf Club (Host of 2015 Scottish Open) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:36

This week we profile Gullane Golf Club, home to this year's 2015 Scottish Open. As recent past guest John Ashworth described during Episode 55 the town of Gullane is home to some pretty spectacular golf. In the heart of the East Lothian golf region the luxury of three links courses onsite ensures accessibility Graylyn Loomis' course review. Stay with us as we continue our winter series profiling Scotland's best links golf courses you will likely visit on a golf vacation to Scotland in 2015. Subscribe on itunes. For Scottish golf course reviews including a St Andrews Story section where golfers are asked to share their visit to St Andrews check out co host Graylyn Loomis' website. If left with any questions don’t hesitate to contact Ru or Graylyn by emailing

 Episode 56 – Muirfield & The Renaissance Club | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:27

On the latest episode we showcase the neighbouring courses of Muirfield, home to The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and the modern Tom Doak designed The Renaissance Club. Muirfield The lure of a testing Open Championship course, a traditional clubhouse experience and it's stature in the origins of the game places Muirfield firmly on the bucket-list for many visiting golfers to Scotland. The course is public with visitor play on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. With such a demand for tee times a round here particularly during the summer months can become very elusive. Visitors unsurprisingly book well in advanced via their website online booking or by phone which require golfers to buy times (fourball) only. "The overall experience at Muirfield is hard to beat. It is different from nearly every other club and it oozes tradition." (Gralyn Loomis) Graylyn Loomis' excellent Muirfield course review. As Graylyn commented on during the podcast lunch is very much part of the Muirfield experience and a must for anyone lucky enough. To enjoy in such a traditional clubhouse visitors must dawn jacket and tie - all part of the fun! So how much does it cost? For the upcoming season a round at this Open Championship venue will set you back £220 while the day including afternoon foursomes is £270. For more information on Muirfield check out our article recently published article What can you expect from a visit to Muirfield.  Renaissance One of the world’s most exclusive golf clubs recently announced the opportunity for non-members to experience one of the ultimate golf experiences in Scotland. Designed by Tom Doak, The Renaissance Club is recognised as a modern masterpiece of golf course design. With a recently acquired triangular piece of Muirfield-owned land which Doak fashioned into three new holes and the club's recently completed three-storey clubhouse with accommodation the showpiece is finally complete creating a tournament quality venue. Graylyn Loomis' detailed Renaissance course review. This opportunity is called the “One Time Experience”.  It is available for all those that love the game of golf. The experience is exactly as it sounds; an individual may only come to TRC once. It might be to just play the course, or it could be to stay in the fantastic bedrooms and play the great courses in East Lothian over a week. 18 Hole Championship Tom Doak Designed Golf Course 24 Luxury Bedrooms Steam Room, Dry Sauna and Jacuzzi, in both ladies and men’s locker rooms Members Services, concierge assistance Private Dining, overlooking the course or in the wine cellar Golf: A round of golf costs £250 per player. For the full ‘One Time Experience’ i.e. Stay and play: £400 For details about the ‘One Time Experience’ at The Renaissance Club, membership, or for further information, please contact Jordan Whyte on 01620 850 901 or visit the website. Stay with us as we continue our winter series profiling Scotland's best links golf courses you will likely visit on a golf vacation to Scotland in 2015. Subscribe on itunes. For Scottish golf course reviews including a St Andrews Story section where golfers are asked to share their visit to St Andrews check out co host Graylyn Loomis' website. If left with any questions don’t hesitate to contact Ru or Graylyn by emailing:

 Episode 55 – Finding your Linksoul with John Ashworth | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:55

In 1987 John Ashworth started a golfing appeal brand that would change golf clothing forever and turning Ashworth into the world's most recognised golf apparel brand. After ten years however John felt his calling was elsewhere. He would head to Scotland and spend 2 years living in Gullane, playing links golf and dreaming of his next venture. During a captivating interview John reminisces about his time in Scotland and how he continues to apply some of the inherent values of the Scottish game into his life and latest creation Linksoul. You can subscribe to the weekly podcast on itunes. John's latest venture Linksoul offers golfers apparel for social and recreational use off the course as well as on it. For more information on Links Soul visit their website. All above images were taken by Recounter, the go to photography service specialising in buddy trip photography across Scotland. Only recently Linksoul helped prevent Goat Hill Park, a municipal course in California from closure last year and now help run the facility. The opportunity for young golfers to get introduced to the game among many community lead initiatives around golf are being introduced here, a sign that John's time spent in and around Scottish golf continues to leave it's mark. Quick Fire Scottish Golf Travel Questions with John Ashworth Favourite Course? Muirfield Favourite Accommodation? Gullane Flat Favourite Shot? 7th at Gullane Equipment Option? Cashmere sweater & waterproofs - from Linksoul! Misconception? The food! - It's really good! Parting bit of advice? When driving, keep the wheel in the middle of the road. Whether they be avid amateurs or those in the golf industry such as Geoff Shackelford or Matt Ginella, each week we interview golfers about their recent Scottish golf travel experiences. Hear where to play, what to do and where to stay. The word of mouth recommendation remains the best marketing tool in golf travel. Subscribe on itunes. Got a question?


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