Thracian Cliffs, Bulgaria

9 European golf courses that rival Augusta National

Located in Georgia, USA, near to the border of North Carolina, Augusta National Golf Club is considered one of the best golf courses on Earth and one of the most exclusive golf courses in the world. Augusta is the home to the Masters Tournament and notable members of the club include Bill Gates, Jack Nicklaus, Warren Buffet and Ginni Rometty, amongst other successful personalities. Entrance is exclusive, but we’re constantly seeing in magazines and TV the incredible layout of this 18-hole course and golfers daydream about testing their technique in the 1st hole, the Tea Olive. 

However, on this side of the Atlantic, we have some amazing, unique and challenging golf courses that don’t need to be jealous of the Augusta National Golf Club.


Golf de Chantilly, France

36-hole course

At Chantilly, approximately 20 minutes away from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport

Tradition and etiquette are two of the most used adjectives to describe this remarkable golf course. Located in the forest of Ile de France, the English architect Tom Simpson strategically designed Golf de Chantilly to challenge the brains of golfers. The placement of the fairways, the many bunkers and the forest will test the players to find the right angle to shoot.


St Andrews (Old Course), Scotland

18-hole course

At St Andrews, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Edinburgh Airport

Established for over six centuries, St Andrews is one of the oldest golf courses in the world and, regardless of the international recognition and status, the course is open to everybody.

Mother Nature has been the main creator of this golf, although, Allan Robertson designed the wide fairways, created the challenging Road Hole green and the famous giant double green. Also, the Swilcan Bridge, the Hell Bunker and other strategic golf features have inspired the layout of many golf courses, such as the Augusta National.


Monte Rei (North), Portugal

18-hole course

Near Tavira, approximately 50 minutes away from Faro Airport

Located near the Algarve and the Spanish border, Monte Rei North is a golf course you should definitely add to your itinerary if you are planning to visit several courses in this area. In contrast to St. Andrews, Monte Rei is one of the newest golf courses on this list, having been established in 2007. Despite its recent beginnings, Monte Rei is already one of Europe’s top-ranked destinations because of the great conditions of the course and the superb holes.


Real Club Valderrama, Spain

18-hole course

At Sotogrande, approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Málaga Airport

The Real Club Valderrama is among our favourite golf courses in Spain and one of the best golf courses in the world. The 18-hole course has hosted many international golf competitions, such as The Ryder Cup, Volvo Masters and WGC-American Express Championship.

This highly-exclusive golf course located in the south of Spain is known as “The European Augusta”. Entrance is mainly for members of the club, however, a limited number of other golfers can enjoy the course.


Campo de Golf El Saler, Spain

18-hole course

At El Saler, approximately 30 minutes away from Valencia Airport

Just 30 minutes away from Valencia Airport, in the middle of the Albufera Nature Park and next to the Mediterranean coast, El Campo de Golf El Saler is a great destination for a golf weekend get-a-away. 18 holes, with a par of 72, to test your golfing skills while you feel the Mediterranean breeze.

Considered one of the best golf courses in the world, The Saler has also hosted important international competitions such as the European Tour.  


Golf de Fontainebleau, France

18-hole course

At Fontainebleau, approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes away from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport

Golf de Fontainebleau, located in the Fontainebleau forest, is considered one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. The course is integrated with the nature of the Fontainebleau forest, where it’s located, with fairways surrounded by oak, pine and beech trees. For that true at-one-with-nature feel, sometimes, you can even spot deer.


Carya Golf Club, Turkey

18-hole course

At Carya Golf Club, approximately 25 minutes away from Antalya Airport

Thomson Perrett & Lobb Golf Course Architects designed Carya Golf Club as the first full-lighted golf course in Europe. Golfers can play at the 18-hole course until late at night without losing sight of the flag-stick. Certainly, the illumination won’t be a problem to the player, who will have to strategically plan each stroke and keep in mind the bunkers with heather-covered edges and the lakes.


Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort, Bulgaria

18-hole course

At Thracian Cliffs, approximately 1 hour away from Varna Airport

Built on the top of a cliff and with a stunning view, the Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort is a unique golf experience: Golfers can see the sea from every hole of the course. Because of this, Thracian Cliffs is the most photographed golf course in Europe. 

Gary Player designed a course suitable for all levels, but still challenging enough for the expert golfers. Sitting on the top of the cliff and with the Black Sea behind, the hole No. 6 will be the most memorable hole for any player, not only because of its difficulty but for the impressive views of the waves.


Troia, Portugal

18-hole course

At Troia, approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Lisbon Airport

Located in the peninsula of Troia, south of Lisbon, this course was designed by the American architect Robert Trent Jones. Also in this golf course, the player will find some of Jones’ famous trademarks: narrow fairways, bold bunkers protecting the holes and raised greens that will engage the golfer in each hole.

The Must-See Golf Events in Europe

During 2018, the European Tour features 47 tournaments, 24 of which are in Europe. With golf events spread right across the continent, there has never been a better time to travel to the must-see golf events in Europe.
To help you decide which European Tour tournament to visit in 2018, we’ve chosen a few of our favourites and shared some extra inspiration to help make planning your golf holiday a bit easier.


Famous for its Alpine landscape, Austria becomes a golfer’s paradise once the seasonal snow has melted. Famous for picturesque mountain villages, baroque architecture and spectacular music, Vienna, Austria’s capital city, makes the perfect destination for a golf holiday. Boasting an oceanic climate, Vienna enjoys warm summers with average high temperatures ranging between 24C and 33C.

Must-see Golf Events in Austria

The 2018 Shot Clock Masters

When: 7th June 2018 – 10th June 2018
Where: Diamond Country Club, Atzenbrugg, near Vienna.

Golf Holidays to Austria

Fly to: Vienna Airport
Stay: Transfers from Vienna Airport to Vienna take approximately 25 minutes.
Play: In addition to Diamond Country Club, we advise visits to Golf-Club Wien, Golf & Country Club Brunn and Colony Golf Club.


Largely comprising of low hills and plains, England’s terrain has produced some of the best golf courses in the world. Host to 3 major tournaments in the 2018 European Tour, the country boasts a temperate maritime climate that offers mild temperatures ideal for play.

Whilst there are many locations for golf holidays in England, if you are planning to visit one of the must-see golf events in Europe during 2018, we recommend staying in Surrey in southeast England, although all events can be reached from London through a transfer.

Must-see Golf Events in England


When: 5th May 2018 – 6th May 2018
Where: Centurion Club, St. Albans

BMW PGA Championship

When: 24th May 2018 – 27th May 2018
Where: Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey

British Masters

When: 11th October 2018 – 14th October 2018
Where: Walton Heath Golf Course, Walton on the Hill, Surrey

Golf Holidays to England

Fly to: London City Airport, London Gatwick Airport London Heathrow Airport, London Luton Airport, London Stansted Airport in addition to other major airports in England.
Stay: Transfers from London Airports to Surrey take between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
Play: In addition to the host golf clubs, we recommend visiting Sunningdale Golf Club, St. George’s Hill Golf Club and Queenwood Golf Club.


No description of the French landscape will ever be sufficient. From the undulating countryside, magnificent mountainous regions, sophisticated coastal resorts and iconic cities, whatever you are looking for in a golf holiday, France offers.

Host to one of the most exciting golf events in 2018, Paris is the ultimate destination for a golf holiday. Combining the chic cityscape with glorious golf courses, the French capital city will create a golf holiday to remember.

Must-see Golf Events in France

HNA Open De France

When: 28th June 2018 – 1st July 2018
Where: Le Golf National, Paris

The Ryder Cup

When: 28th September 2018 – 30th September 2018
Where: Le Golf National, Paris

Golf Holidays to France

Fly to: Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Stay: Transfers from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris take approximately 35 minutes.
Play: In additional to Le Golf National, we recommend visiting Golf de Saint Germain, Golf de Saint-Cloud and Paris International Golf Club.


Separated from Great Britain by the North Channel, the Irish Sea and St George’s Channel, Ireland’s windswept landscape is home to some of the best golf courses in the world. Comprised of low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, it is the island’s coast which has produced some of its most famous golf clubs.

Whilst golf holidays on either coast will prove to be a memorable experience, a journey to the most northerly point will let you experience the magic of Ballyliffin Golf Club.

Must-see Golf Events in Ireland

Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open

When: 5th July 2018 – 8th July 2018
Where: Ballyliffin Golf Club, Country Donegal

Golf Holidays to Ireland

Fly to: Dublin Airport or Shannon Airport.
Stay: Transfers from Dublin Airport to Letterkenny take approximately 3 hours 15 minutes.
Play: In addition to the 2 courses offered at Ballyliffin Golf Club, we recommend visits to Portsalon Golf Club, North West Golf Club and Rosapenna Golf Links.


Featuring strong Mediterranean influences, Italy is full of cultural cities and country clubs. Enjoying a pleasant climate, summers are generally hot. Whilst golf holidays to the famous cities of Rome and Venice make for great golf experiences, don’t forget to consider Sicily or Sardinia when planning your Italian golf trip.

Must-see Golf Events in Italy

Rocco Forte Open

When: 10th May 2018 – 13th May 2018
Where: Verdura Golf Club, Sicily

Italian Open

When: 31st May 2018 – 3rd June 2018
Where: Gardagolf Country Club, Brescia

Golf Holidays in Italy

Fly to: Milan Malpensa Airport, Venice Marco Polo Airport or Venice Treviso Airport are great for travelling to the Italian Open, whilst either Catania Airport or Palermo Airport is fine for the Rocco Forte Open.
Stay: Whilst we recommend staying at a golf resort in Sicily, transfers from Milan Malpensa Airport to Milan take approximately 50 minutes.
Play: If you are travelling to Sicily, we recommend playing at all three golf resorts: Donnafugata Golf Resort, Il Picciolo Golf Club and Verdura Golf & Spa Resort. On the mainland, in addition to Gardagolf Country Club, we recommend visiting Royal Park I Roveri Golf Club, Golf Club Arzaga and Circolo Golf Bogogno.


Situated on the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain, Portugal is known globally for its fantastic golf courses. Featuring a significant Atlantic coast, it is the Algarve that has the most iconic golf experiences. Enjoying a warm climate all year-round, this stretch of coastline is a golfer’s dream.

Must-see Golf Events in Portugal

Portugal Masters

When: 20th September 2018 – 23rd September 2018
Where: Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, Vilamoura

Golf Holidays in Portugal

Fly to: Faro Airport
Stay: Transfers from Faro Airport to Vilamoura take approximately 30 minutes.
Play: In addition to the host course, we recommend visiting Vale do Lobo, Vila Sol Golf Resort and Vilamoura Old Course Golf Club.


Featuring magnificent mountains, glacial glens and lochs, Scotland provides a memorable backdrop for any golf course. The home of golf, the country is filled with numerous internationally-recognised golf courses. Whilst we recommend Edinburgh as a golf holiday destination, with Edinburgh and Glasgow only 1-hour transfer apart, why not stay in both?

Must-see Golf Events in Scotland

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open

When: 12th July 2018 to 15th July 2018
Where: Gullane Golf Club, Gullane

147th Open Championship

When: 19th July 2018 to 22nd July 2018
Where: Carnoustie Golf Links, Carnoustie

European Golf Team Championships

When: 8th August 2018 to 12th August 2018
Where: Gleneagles, Perthshire

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

When: 4th October 2018 to 7th October 2018
Where: Old Course St. Andrews, Carnoustie & Kingsbarns

Golf Holidays in Scotland

Fly to: Edinburgh Airport or Glasgow Airport
Stay: Transfers from Edinburgh Airport to Edinburgh take approximately 40 minutes.
Play: Apart from the host golf clubs, we recommend visiting North Berwick Golf Club, Royal Burgess Golfing Society and Royal Musselburgh Golf Club.


Featuring diverse geography and cultures, Spain offers incredible variety for golf holidays. Famous for it’s several ‘Costa’s’, the Spanish coast enjoys a pleasant climate and is perfect for golf all-year-round. Whilst there are numerous destinations that offer great golf opportunities, we recommend looking at the famous Costa del Sol, also known as ‘Costa del Golf’.

Must-see Golf Events in Spain

Andalucía Valderrama Masters

When: 18th October 2018 – 21st October 2018
Where: Real Club Valderrama, Sotogrande.

Golf Holidays in Spain

Fly: Gibraltar Airport or Malaga Airport
Stay: Transfers from Malaga Airport to Estepona take approximately 1 hour 10 minutes.
Play: In addition to Real Club Valderrama, we recommend visiting  Estepona Golf, Real Club de Golf Sotogrande and San Roque Golf Club.

We hope this guide to the must-see events in Europe has helped inspire your next golf holiday.

Wherever you decide to go, don’t forget to get an instant quote from Golf-Drives for your golf transfers. Golf-Drives will transfer you from the airport to your hotel, your hotel to the golf course, and back again! Book online now!

10 Reasons to choose Vilamoura for your golf holiday

Vilamoura Golf

Known as one of Europe’s best golfing destinations, Vilamoura is the ultimate location for a golf holiday in Portugal. Covering 2,000 acres of the Algarve region, Vilamoura was constructed in the 1980s as an elite golfing centre, and this vision has established the resorts as a golfer’s paradise.

If Vilamoura’s reputation isn’t enough to convince you to visit the region for your golf holiday, we’ve shared 10 reasons why this Portuguese resort should be the next location your visit for a golfing holiday.

Where is Vilamoura?

Vilamoura is located in the famous Algarve region of Portugal. It is situated on the Atlantic coast, halfway between the popular towns of Albufeira and Faro. The resort consists of two beaches which stretch to the fishing village of Olhos de Agua to the west, and the town of Quarteira to the southeast.

Travel Essentials

Language: Portuguese (English & French widely spoken)
Currency: Euro
Local Time: GMT/BST
Fly to: Faro Airport (FAO), also known as Algarve Airport.
Flight time: Approximately 2 hours 45minutes from the UK

Reasons to have a golf holiday in Vilamoura

Vilamoura is a purpose-built luxury resort

Vilamoura is one of the most prestigious resorts in Portugal, and one of the biggest private tourism resorts in Europe. Unlike most resorts, Vilamoura was constructed with the tourist industry as the main goal. Sacrificing an authentic Portuguese atmosphere, Vilamoura focuses on providing outstanding tourist facilities and serves. It is this dedication that has made Vilamoura the most refined of all the Algarve resort towns.

Vilamoura has excellent weather all year round

Boasting mild winters, pleasant spring and autumns, and long hot summers, Vilamoura is a great location for a golf holiday any time of year. Averages highs during summer months are around 28C, whilst mild winters bring average high temperatures of 16C between December and February. Vilamoura generally experiences weather suitable to relax on the two pristine beaches from mid-May to mid-October. The wettest months are usually April, October and November, whilst July and August are largely dry.

It is also worth noting that the high of the tourist season is considered to be from July and August. Like most resorts on the Algarve, the majority of tourist facilities close at the end of October and re-open at Easter.

Vilamoura offers incredible golf courses

Vilamoura consists of 6 excellent 18-hole golf facilities with numerous championship courses in the region. All golf courses are operated by the Oceanico Golf company who have a reputation for extremely high standards and top-quality facilities. In terms of courses we recommend visiting the iconic Old Golf Course, Millennium Golf Course and the Victoria Golf Course, the latter of which is used for the Portugal Masters. Green fees are generally most expensive during October and November when the weather is perfect for golf and most championship golf clubs require handicap certificates. Click here for further recommendations on the best golf courses on the Algarve.

Vilamoura has a wide range of accommodation

Because Vilamoura is purpose-built to provide high-quality tourist facilities, it contains a wide range of accommodation options which will suit all budgets and tastes. From five-star luxury hotels to privately owned villas and apartments, the resort offers plenty of facilities to accommodate your needs.

Vilamoura is centred around a beautiful marina

Acting as the hub of the entire resort, Vilamoura marina is surrounded by stylish hotels, restaurants and bars. Boasting a 1000-berth marina, the complex attracts luxury yachts adding to the sophisticated atmosphere. There is also a beautiful promenade which is perfect for an evening stroll.

Vilamoura has two pristine beaches

After an early morning tee-off time, nothing beats relaxing on the soft golden sands of a beach. Boasting two beautiful beaches, Vilamoura is the perfect place to relax after a day on the course. Running all the way to Olhos d’Agua, Praia de Falesia can be found to the west of Vilamoura marina, whilst Praia de Vilamoura begins on the east side of the marina and stretches to Quarteira. If relaxing on a beach isn’t for you, there are plenty of motorised water sports on offer, such as jet skis, banana boats and parasailing.

Vilamoura has lots of things to do

Apart from golf and water sports, Vilamoura offers lots of activities to suit all tastes. Boasting a tennis club with 12 clay courts and five-a-side football pitches, the resort has plenty of opportunities to get active. In addition to this, you can also go on boat tours and dolphin and whale watching tours from the marina.

Vilamoura is close to other resorts

Whilst Vilamoura covers a large 200-acre area, other areas in the Algarve region of Portugal are easily accessible via transfer from Golf-Drives. The market town of Loule and the lively strip are all close by for those looking to experience every side of the Algarve. Alternatively, you can explore the capital city of the Algarve, Faro, or experience the spectacular Rio Formosa nature reserve.

Vilamoura has excellent restaurants

Vilamoura has a café culture with many fine dining options overlooking the marina. The regions speciality is fish based on the fresh catch from Quarteira fishing harbour, but there is plenty of variety to suit all tastes. We recommend Braganca Mar which serves fantastic Cataplana fish stew and seafood paella complimented by local wine produced in Sir Cliff Richard’s nearby vineyard. It is also worth noting that, whilst the main tourist facilities close during the low season, most restaurants and cafes in the marina complex stay open due to the large permanent population.

Vilamoura has great nightlife

Although it may not contain any superclubs, Vilamoura has a lively nightlife atmosphere which is centred around the marina. We recommend visiting Figo 7, a sports bar which shows all the major events and owned by former footballer Luis Figo. Alternatively, visit Vilamoura Casino which has regular evening entertainment as well as plenty of games rooms.

How to get to Vilamoura

Vilamoura is located just 25km to the west of Faro Airport which serves flights covering the whole of Europe.

Public transport is extremely limited from Faro Airport to Vilamoura, with the journey requiring two bus journeys and taking between 1hr30mins to 2hrs depending on connections. Because of this, many visitors choose a short, hassle-free private transfer from Faro Airport to Vilamoura.

Golf-Drives is able to provide transfers from Faro Airport to your Vilamoura accommodation, Vilamoura to golf courses, and back again! All of our transfers have been designed with golfers in mind, with each transfer including a golf bag as standard in the price.

The Best Golf Courses in the Algarve

The Algarve is one of the top destinations for golf tourists, and with towns such as Albufeira, Lagos and Vilamoura, it is no surprise to see why. Introduced in 1890 by a group of British wine exporters, the golf courses in Portugal are some of the best in the world. 

As one of Europe’s most popular golf holiday destinations, over half of the best golf courses in Portugal can be found in the Algarve. Stretching for 100 miles along the southern coastline, there are over 40 golf courses in the Algarve, ranging from 9-holes to 18-holes and everything in between. Obviously, you can’t visit all of these courses during a single golf holiday in the Algarve, so here we’ve listed 10 of the best and we’re counting down. Take a look!

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Algarve Golf Courses List

10. Quinta da Ria at Quinta da Ria Resort

Located away from the majority of Algarve golf courses, Quinta da Ria is one of two courses at the Quinta da Ria Resort. Located in the Eastern Algarve and within the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, the Quinta da Ria opened for play in 2002. 

The course was designed by the architect, Rocky Roquemore, and offers 18 holes with a traditional par 72 layout that runs on an almost flat terrain. Serene, rugged and unspoilt, Quinta da Ria features five lakes and numerous bunkers to challenge players of all standards.

9. Quinta de Cima at Quinta da Ria Resort

The second course located within the Quinta da Ria Resort, the Quinta de Cima is an 18-hole championship course with a par of 72. Spread over 620,000m², the course has established international acclaim, hosting the PGA Europro Tour in 2003 and 2004. Quinta da Cima combines the serene surroundings of orange trees and vineyards with hazards such as permanent flowing water to create a top-quality golf course that maintains the essence of the landscape.

8. Laranjal at Quinta do Lago

Part of a 2,000-acre exclusive residential development, Laranjal is one of three courses at Sociedade de Golfe da Quinta do Lago. Just 15 minutes northwest of Faro airport, the development consists of housing and three award-winning golf courses. 

Voted Best Golf Course at the 2011 Portuguese Travel Awards, Laranjal gets its name from the orange grove which previously occupied the site. Measuring 6,480 metres in length, this par 72 championship course has a distinctive undulating terrain which requires concentration and accuracy. You’ll need to be on your A game!

7. North at Quinta do Lago

Renovated in 2014 by Beau Welling in collaboration with European Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley, the North course at Quinta do Lago is one of the most enjoyable golf courses in the Algarve. Embracing the charm of the Ria Formosa nature reserve, this par 72 course is both natural and technically perfect. Using undulating terrain, strategically placed bunkers and water hazards such as a 3-acre lake, players of all abilities will be challenged at Quinta do Lago.

6. South at Quinta do Lago

The third and most critically-acclaimed course at the Sociedade de Golfe da Quinta do Lago is the South. Designed by William Mitchell in 1974, this 18-hole championship par 72 course has hosted the Portuguese Open eight times and is a flagship in the European Tour Course. Despite its prestigious reputation, the South course’s variety should not deter an amateur golfer from trying their hand.

5. Onyria Palmares Golf & Beach Resort

Offering the best views available from any golf course in Portugal, the Onyria Palmares Golf & Beach Resort has a range of fairways to try out. Renovated by Robert Trent Jones in 2011, the course is composed of three returning nine-hole loops that can be played in any sequence. Combining elevation changes, various hazards and shoreline play, the amount of variety available at this course has made it one of the most popular golf courses on the Algarve.

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4. The Sir Henry Cotton Championship at Penina Hotel & Golf Resort

The first 18-hole Championship golf course on the Algarve, the Championship course at Penina Hotel & Golf Resort was built in 1966 by Sir Henry Cotton. Located on a 360-acre estate between Portimao and Lagos, the resort has previously been voted Portugal’s Leading Golf Resort by the World Travel Awards. The Championship course is one of three at the resort; the other two being the 18-hole Resort course and the 9-hole Academy course. Featuring a stream, ditches and subtle slopes, this par 73 course has hosted the Portuguese Open ten times and is playable all year round.

3. The Royal at Vale do Lobo

Portugal’s largest luxury resort and the most senior golf resort on the Algarve, Vale do Lobo is a luxury residential development which boasts two award-winning 18-hole golf courses, known as the Royal and the Ocean. Based on the original drawings of Sir Henry Cotton, the Royal was designed by Rocky Roquemore and opened in 1997. Home to the almost island green of the 9th and the famous 16th, with cliff-top carryover, the Royal course is a must-visit on your golfing holiday to the Algarve.

2. San Lorenzo Golf Course

Set close by to Vilamoura, alongside the Atlantic Ocean, the San Lorenzo Golf Course is ranked alongside the best in the world. Opening for play in 1988, Joe Lee took advantage of the areas excellent topography and routed the course through gently undulating pine woodland. Laid out in a figure of eight, the course offers spectacular sea views alongside threatening water hazards.

1. North at Monte Rei Golf & Country Club

Located in the northeast hills of Tavira, the Monte Rei Golf & Country Club is worth travelling for. Despite only opening for play in 2007, the North is not only the best golf course in the Algarve but also the best golf course in Portugal. This par 72 championship golf course consists of eight par 4’s, five par 3’s and five par 5’s in a unique and challenging layout. Measuring 6567m² from the Tournament tees, the contoured, sculpted bunkers and attention to detail make this course an enjoyable and memorable experience that no golfing holiday to the Algarve is complete without.

Prepare for the golf holiday of a lifetime

There you have it! If you have any more questions at all, just get in touch. Alternatively, you can take a look at our FAQs page which should answer any questions you may have. Happy golfing!

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