Golf and Skiing Community Initiatives

Going Green in Golf: Tips for a More Environmentally Friendly Game

Golf is a sport that is played and enjoyed by millions of people around the world. However, it also has a significant environmental impact, particularly in terms of water usage, energy consumption, and land development. Fortunately, there are many ways to make golf more environmentally friendly. In this article, we will explore some tips and strategies for reducing the environmental impact of golf while still enjoying the game. From sustainable course design to eco-friendly equipment, we will cover a range of topics that will help you play golf in a more environmentally conscious way. So, grab your clubs and let’s get started on our journey to a greener golf game!

Reducing Water Usage

Installing a Smart Irrigation System

Installing a smart irrigation system is one of the most effective ways to reduce water usage on a golf course. These systems use weather data and soil moisture sensors to determine the appropriate amount of water needed for each area of the course. By installing a smart irrigation system, golf courses can reduce their water usage by up to 50%.

There are several advantages to using a smart irrigation system. First, it helps to conserve water, which is a valuable resource in many areas. Second, it can save money on water bills. Third, it can improve the quality of the turf by ensuring that it receives the appropriate amount of water.

When choosing a smart irrigation system, it is important to consider the size of the golf course, the climate, and the type of grass on the course. Different systems are designed for different types of courses, so it is important to choose the right system for your specific needs. Additionally, it is important to consider the cost of the system and the cost of installation. While smart irrigation systems can be expensive, they can pay for themselves over time through water savings and improved turf quality.

Implementing Drought-Resistant Grass

Benefits of Drought-Resistant Grass

  • Reduced water usage
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Improved resistance to heat and diseases
  • Increased playability during dry periods

Selecting the Right Grass Varieties for Your Course

  • Consult with a golf course agronomist or horticulturist
  • Consider climate, soil type, and playing conditions
  • Explore various drought-tolerant grass species such as:
    • Buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides)
    • Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon)
    • Zoysia grass (Zoysia spp.)
    • Fescue grasses (Festuca spp.)
  • Implement a phased approach for grass conversion, prioritizing high-traffic areas first

Recycling and Reusing Water

Recycling and reusing water is a crucial aspect of reducing water usage in golf courses. By doing so, golf courses can significantly reduce their water consumption and promote environmental sustainability. Here are some practical tips for golf courses to recycle and reuse water:

  • Collecting and storing rainwater: Golf courses can collect and store rainwater in specially designed tanks or ponds. This rainwater can then be used for irrigation, particularly during dry periods. This method not only conserves water but also helps to reduce the amount of runoff that can pollute nearby waterways.
  • Using recycled water for irrigation: Golf courses can also use recycled water for irrigation. This can be achieved by treating and filtering wastewater from homes, businesses, and industries before using it to irrigate the golf course. This method helps to conserve potable water and reduces the amount of wastewater that ends up in our waterways.

In addition to these methods, golf courses can also install aerators and moisture sensors to help maintain the quality of the playing surface while reducing water usage. By implementing these tips, golf courses can reduce their environmental impact and promote sustainability.

Energy Efficiency

Key takeaway: Installing a smart irrigation system, implementing drought-resistant grass, recycling and reusing water, upgrading lighting systems, reducing single-use plastics, promoting sustainable transportation, supporting public transportation, using native plants and vegetation, implementing integrated pest management, minimizing chemical use, restoring natural habitats, educating staff and players, hosting environmental events, and sharing success stories are all effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of golf courses.

Upgrading Lighting Systems

Benefits of LED lighting

LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting systems have gained immense popularity in recent years due to their numerous benefits. Compared to traditional lighting systems, LED lights are:

  • Energy-efficient: LED lights consume significantly less energy than traditional lighting systems, reducing overall energy consumption and lowering energy costs.
  • Long-lasting: LED lights have a longer lifespan than traditional lighting systems, reducing the need for frequent bulb replacements and minimizing waste.
  • Durable: LED lights are resistant to vibration and shock, making them ideal for outdoor use in harsh environments.
  • Environmentally friendly: LED lights do not contain harmful chemicals like mercury, and their production generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional lighting systems.

Choosing the right LED lighting system for your course

When upgrading to LED lighting systems, it is essential to choose the right system for your golf course to maximize energy savings and ensure optimal performance. Consider the following factors when selecting an LED lighting system:

  • Light output: Assess the lighting needs of your course to determine the appropriate light output required for different areas.
  • Color temperature: Choose a color temperature that suits your course’s ambiance and enhances visibility for golfers.
  • Light distribution: Select a lighting system that provides uniform light distribution to ensure consistent illumination across the course.
  • Control options: Consider systems with advanced control options, such as motion sensors or smart lighting technology, to further optimize energy usage.
  • Cost: Compare the upfront and long-term costs of various LED lighting systems to find the most cost-effective solution for your course.

By upgrading to energy-efficient LED lighting systems, golf courses can significantly reduce their energy consumption, lower operating costs, and contribute to a more environmentally friendly game.

Implementing Energy-Efficient Equipment

Identifying Energy-Efficient Equipment Options

  • Research and identify energy-efficient equipment options that are available in the market.
  • Consider the energy-saving features and specifications of the equipment.
  • Look for equipment that meets or exceeds energy efficiency standards set by regulatory bodies.

Evaluating the Return on Investment for Energy-Efficient Equipment

  • Determine the potential energy savings and cost reductions that can be achieved by implementing energy-efficient equipment.
  • Consider the total cost of ownership, including initial purchase costs, maintenance costs, and operating costs.
  • Analyze the payback period for the investment in energy-efficient equipment.
  • Conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine the financial feasibility of implementing energy-efficient equipment.

By implementing energy-efficient equipment, golf courses can significantly reduce their energy consumption and costs, while also contributing to a more sustainable future.

Waste Management

Reducing Single-Use Plastics

Golf courses can generate a significant amount of waste, including plastic bottles, plastic bags, and other single-use plastic items. By reducing the use of single-use plastics, golf courses can significantly reduce their environmental impact. Here are some tips for reducing single-use plastics on the golf course:

  • Encouraging players to bring their own reusable water bottles and golf balls

One of the most significant sources of waste on a golf course is single-use plastic water bottles. To reduce this waste, golf courses can encourage players to bring their own reusable water bottles. This can be done by providing water stations with faucets or refillable water dispensers, or by offering discounts to players who bring their own reusable water bottles.

Another way to reduce single-use plastics is by encouraging players to use their own golf balls. Golf courses can offer discounts or incentives to players who bring their own golf balls made from sustainable materials, such as biodegradable or recycled materials.

  • Phasing out single-use plastic items on the course

In addition to encouraging players to bring their own reusable items, golf courses can also take steps to phase out single-use plastic items on the course. This can include replacing plastic cups with compostable or reusable alternatives, using reusable bins for waste disposal, and switching to eco-friendly cleaning products.

By reducing the use of single-use plastics, golf courses can make a significant impact on the environment. Not only does this help to reduce waste, but it also helps to conserve resources and reduce the carbon footprint of the golf industry.

Implementing Recycling Programs

When it comes to waste management in golf, implementing recycling programs is a crucial step towards reducing the environmental impact of the game. Here are some key aspects to consider when establishing a comprehensive recycling program for plastics, cardboard, and other materials:

  1. Sorting and Collection:
    • Designate specific bins for different types of recyclable materials such as plastic bottles, cans, cardboard, and paper.
    • Provide clear signage and labels to educate players and staff on what can be recycled and how to properly sort the waste.
  2. Transportation and Processing:
    • Establish a system for collecting the recyclable waste from the golf course and transporting it to a designated recycling facility.
    • Partner with local recycling companies or haulers to ensure the proper disposal and processing of the recyclable materials.
  3. Education and Awareness:
    • Conduct regular training sessions and workshops for players and staff to educate them on the importance of recycling and proper waste management practices.
    • Include recycling tips and guidelines in newsletters, websites, and other communication channels to raise awareness and encourage participation.
  4. Monitoring and Evaluation:
    • Track the volume and type of waste generated on the golf course to measure the effectiveness of the recycling program.
    • Regularly evaluate the program’s performance and make adjustments as needed to improve recycling rates and minimize environmental impact.

By implementing these recycling programs, golf courses can significantly reduce their waste generation and contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly game of golf.

Composting Organic Waste

Composting organic waste is an essential part of going green in golf. It helps to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and creates a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can be used to improve the health and appearance of golf courses. Here are some tips for setting up a composting system for food waste and organic materials:

  • Determine the type of composting system that works best for your golf course. There are several options available, including traditional composting piles, enclosed bins, and turners.
  • Choose a location for your composting system that is easily accessible and has good drainage.
  • Collect food waste and organic materials, such as grass clippings and leaves, in designated bins or containers.
  • Ensure that the composting materials are well-ventilated and regularly turned to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria and fungi.
  • Monitor the composting process to ensure that it is proceeding correctly and to make any necessary adjustments.
  • Use the finished compost as a soil amendment to improve the health and appearance of your golf course.

By following these tips, golf courses can reduce their environmental impact and improve their bottom line by reducing waste and creating a valuable resource for maintaining the course.

Sustainable Transportation

Encouraging Walking and Biking

Benefits of Walking and Biking

  • Reduces carbon footprint
  • Improves physical fitness
  • Enhances connection to nature

Incentives for Walking and Biking

  • Offer discounts for players who walk or bike
  • Provide free bike rentals or discounted bike rentals
  • Offer reusable water bottles or discounts for players who bring their own reusable water bottles

Course Design and Infrastructure

  • Design walking and biking paths that are accessible and well-maintained
  • Provide rest areas and water stations along the paths
  • Install bike racks and lockers at the course

Promoting the Use of Golf Carts for Players with Disabilities

  • Provide golf carts for players with disabilities
  • Offer discounts or incentives for players who use golf carts for transportation
  • Ensure that the golf carts are electric or hybrid to reduce emissions

Community Outreach and Education

  • Host events and workshops to educate players about the benefits of walking and biking
  • Collaborate with local organizations to promote sustainable transportation options
  • Share success stories and testimonials from players who have adopted sustainable transportation practices

By encouraging walking and biking, golf courses can reduce their carbon footprint, promote physical fitness, and enhance the connection between players and nature. In addition, offering incentives such as discounts or free bike rentals can encourage players to adopt sustainable transportation practices. Course design and infrastructure can also support walking and biking by providing accessible and well-maintained paths, rest areas, and water stations. Golf courses can also promote the use of golf carts for players with disabilities while ensuring that they are electric or hybrid to reduce emissions. Finally, community outreach and education can help raise awareness about the benefits of sustainable transportation and encourage players to adopt environmentally friendly practices.

Implementing Electric or Hybrid Golf Carts

  • Advantages of electric and hybrid golf carts
    • Reduced emissions: One of the primary advantages of using electric or hybrid golf carts is the significant reduction in emissions. Unlike gas-powered carts, electric and hybrid carts do not emit harmful greenhouse gases or other pollutants, making them a more environmentally friendly option.
    • Energy efficiency: Electric and hybrid golf carts are also more energy-efficient than their gas-powered counterparts. They typically use regenerative braking, which means that they can recharge their batteries during normal use, further reducing energy consumption.
  • Upgrading the golf cart fleet to more sustainable options
    • Assessing the current fleet: Before upgrading to electric or hybrid golf carts, it’s essential to assess the current fleet’s size and condition. This will help determine the number of carts that need to be replaced and the type of carts that will best suit the course’s needs.
    • Evaluating charging infrastructure: Another important consideration when upgrading to electric or hybrid golf carts is the charging infrastructure. The course will need to have adequate charging stations and a reliable power source to ensure that the carts can be charged efficiently.
    • Incentives for upgrading: Golf courses can also take advantage of incentives and grants to help offset the cost of upgrading to more sustainable transportation options. Many states and municipalities offer incentives for businesses that adopt electric or hybrid vehicles, and some utility companies offer reduced rates for electric vehicle charging.

Supporting Public Transportation

Partnering with Local Public Transportation Services

  • Collaborating with local transportation providers to promote the use of eco-friendly options for reaching the golf course
  • Providing information about public transportation schedules and routes to make it easy for golfers to plan their trips
  • Offering special deals or discounts to players who choose to use public transportation to get to the course

Offering Discounts to Players Who Use Public Transportation

  • Encouraging environmentally conscious choices by offering financial incentives to players who opt for public transportation
  • Creating a rewards program or loyalty scheme that rewards frequent users of public transportation
  • Providing special offers or discounts on green fees, merchandise, or other services to players who show their public transportation tickets or passes

Promoting Carpooling

One of the most effective ways to reduce the carbon footprint of golf courses is by promoting carpooling. This involves encouraging players to share rides to the course, thereby reducing the number of cars on the road and minimizing carbon emissions.

To promote carpooling, golf courses can take the following steps:

  • Designated Carpooling Areas
    • Golf courses can provide designated carpooling areas, which can be easily accessible and well-marked. These areas can be located near the parking lot or the entrance of the course.
    • Providing designated carpooling areas can encourage players to carpool, as it provides a convenient and organized way for them to do so.
  • Incentives for Carpooling
    • Golf courses can offer incentives for players who carpool to the course. These incentives can include discounted green fees, free range balls, or other perks.
    • Incentives can be offered on a per-person basis, so that players who carpool can receive a discount or other benefit for each person they bring along.
    • Alternatively, golf courses can offer incentives to players who carpool in a single vehicle, such as a discount on gas or a free car wash.

By promoting carpooling, golf courses can reduce the number of cars on the road and lower their carbon footprint. This not only helps the environment, but it can also benefit the golf course by reducing traffic congestion and parking demand.

Sustainable Course Design and Maintenance

Using Native Plants and Vegetation

Using native plants and vegetation is an essential aspect of sustainable course design and maintenance in golf. This approach has numerous benefits for both the environment and the golf course itself. Here’s why using native plants and vegetation is a crucial element of green golf practices.

Benefits of using native plants

  1. Ecological balance: Native plants have evolved to thrive in specific environmental conditions, which makes them well-suited to their native habitats. They support local ecosystems by providing food and shelter for native wildlife, maintaining biodiversity, and contributing to the overall health of the ecosystem.
  2. Drought resistance: Native plants are adapted to local climate conditions, which means they require less water than non-native species. This helps reduce water consumption on golf courses, which can be a significant environmental concern, especially in areas with water scarcity.
  3. Soil stabilization: Native plants have deep root systems that help stabilize soil, reducing erosion and the need for extensive landscaping practices like grading and sodding. This contributes to the overall sustainability of the golf course.
  4. Pest control: Native plants often support natural pest control mechanisms, such as predator-prey relationships, which can help reduce the need for chemical pesticides on golf courses.
  5. Aesthetic appeal: Native plants are often visually appealing and can enhance the natural beauty of golf courses, making them more attractive to players and visitors alike.

Selecting the right native plants for your course

  1. Consult local experts: Work with local experts, such as botanists or environmental organizations, to identify the most appropriate native plants for your specific golf course location. These experts can provide valuable insights into the best species to use based on factors like climate, soil conditions, and regional ecosystems.
  2. Consider the course design: Choose native plants that complement the existing landscape and enhance the overall aesthetic of the golf course. This can involve incorporating native trees, shrubs, and flowers into the course design, creating visually appealing and ecologically balanced golf holes.
  3. Establish a native plant nursery: Consider establishing a native plant nursery on-site to grow the plants needed for your course. This can help reduce costs and promote the use of locally sourced materials, further supporting sustainable golf practices.
  4. Maintenance and management: Develop a maintenance plan for your native plants that takes into account their specific needs, such as water requirements, pruning schedules, and pest control measures. Regular monitoring and assessment of the plants’ health will ensure their continued success and contribute to the overall sustainability of your golf course.

By incorporating native plants and vegetation into golf course design and maintenance, golf courses can become more environmentally friendly and contribute to the preservation of local ecosystems.

Implementing Integrated Pest Management

Implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a proactive approach to managing pests on golf courses. It involves using a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical methods to minimize pest damage while reducing the reliance on chemical pesticides. Here are some advantages of implementing IPM on your golf course:

  • Reduced Chemical Use: IPM reduces the reliance on chemical pesticides, which can harm the environment and pollute water sources. By using a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical methods, IPM minimizes pest damage while reducing the use of chemicals.
  • Cost Savings: IPM can help reduce the costs associated with pest control by using more cost-effective methods like cultural and biological controls. Additionally, IPM can help reduce the frequency of chemical treatments, saving money on chemicals and labor.
  • Better Pest Management: IPM provides a more comprehensive approach to pest management, focusing on prevention rather than reaction. By using a combination of methods, IPM can help manage pests more effectively and reduce the risk of resistance to chemical pesticides.

To establish an IPM program for your golf course, consider the following steps:

  1. Conduct a pest assessment to identify the pests and their habitat on your course.
  2. Develop a pest management plan that outlines the IPM methods you will use to manage pests.
  3. Train staff on the IPM methods and the importance of reducing chemical use.
  4. Regularly monitor pest populations and adjust the IPM plan as needed.

By implementing IPM on your golf course, you can reduce chemical use, save money, and improve pest management while promoting a more environmentally friendly game.

Minimizing Chemical Use

Golf courses often require large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to maintain their pristine conditions. However, excessive use of these chemicals can harm the environment and pollute local ecosystems. Therefore, minimizing chemical use is an essential aspect of sustainable course design and maintenance. Here are some tips for reducing chemical use in golf courses:

  • Reducing the use of chemical fertilizers: Chemical fertilizers can leach into groundwater and harm aquatic life. Instead, golf courses can use organic fertilizers made from compost or animal manure. These fertilizers are slow-release and provide nutrients to the soil over an extended period. Additionally, using a soil test to determine the specific nutrient requirements of the soil can help golf courses use only the necessary amount of fertilizer.
  • Implementing organic maintenance practices: Golf courses can adopt organic maintenance practices such as integrated pest management (IPM) and natural weed control methods. IPM involves monitoring and controlling pests using non-chemical methods like introducing natural predators or adjusting cultural practices. Natural weed control methods include using solarization or flame weeding to control weeds without chemical herbicides.
  • Using alternative methods for disease control: Chemical fungicides can harm the environment and may be unnecessary if preventative measures are taken. Golf courses can use alternative methods like aeration, proper irrigation, and selecting disease-resistant grass varieties to prevent disease outbreaks.
  • Implementing integrated management practices: Integrated management practices involve using a combination of methods to manage pests and diseases, including chemical control, cultural practices, and biological control. This approach reduces the reliance on chemicals and promotes a more sustainable golf course management system.

By minimizing chemical use in golf courses, we can reduce the environmental impact of the game and promote a more sustainable future for golf.

Restoring Natural Habitats

When it comes to restoring natural habitats on golf courses, there are several key strategies that course designers and maintenance staff can implement. These include:

  • Removing invasive species: Invasive species can take over a golf course, crowding out native plants and animals. Removing these species and restoring native habitats can help to restore the natural balance of the ecosystem.
  • Planting native vegetation: Planting native vegetation can help to support local wildlife and provide important habitat for birds, butterflies, and other species. This can also help to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which can harm the environment.
  • Creating buffers around water sources: Golf courses often have ponds, lakes, and streams that provide important habitat for wildlife. Creating buffers around these water sources can help to protect them from pollution and other disturbances.
  • Encouraging natural drainage: Many golf courses have been designed with drainage systems that can lead to erosion and pollution. Encouraging natural drainage patterns can help to reduce these impacts and improve the overall health of the ecosystem.

By implementing these strategies, golf courses can become more environmentally friendly and support the local ecosystem.

Education and Awareness

Educating Staff and Players

  • Implementing sustainability training for staff
    • Developing a comprehensive training program that covers key environmental issues and practices in golf courses.
    • Providing staff with resources and tools to implement environmentally friendly practices.
    • Encouraging staff to share their knowledge and best practices with others.
  • Providing educational materials for players on environmentally friendly practices
    • Creating informational materials such as brochures, posters, and videos that highlight the importance of environmental stewardship in golf.
    • Providing players with tips on how to play more environmentally friendly golf, such as reducing water usage, minimizing waste, and conserving energy.
    • Encouraging players to share their knowledge and best practices with others.

By educating both staff and players on environmentally friendly practices, golf courses can promote a culture of sustainability and help reduce their environmental impact. This not only benefits the environment but also helps to enhance the reputation of the golf course as a responsible and environmentally conscious business.

Hosting Environmental Events

Organizing events to raise awareness about environmental issues and engage players and the local community in sustainability efforts can be an effective way to promote a more environmentally friendly game of golf. Here are some tips for hosting successful environmental events:

  • Choose a relevant theme: Select a theme that aligns with the environmental issues you want to raise awareness about. For example, if you want to promote water conservation, you could host a “Water-wise Golf Tournament.”
  • Involve local organizations: Reach out to local environmental organizations and ask them to participate in your event. They can provide educational materials, speakers, and other resources to help raise awareness about environmental issues.
  • Plan educational activities: In addition to the golf tournament, plan educational activities that will teach players and the local community about environmental issues and sustainable practices. This could include workshops, presentations, or exhibits.
  • Encourage sustainable practices: Encourage players and spectators to adopt sustainable practices by providing recycling bins, promoting carpooling, and offering incentives for using environmentally friendly products.
  • Measure the impact: Track the environmental impact of your event and share the results with participants and the local community. This will help demonstrate the positive impact that sustainable practices can have on the environment.

By hosting environmental events, golf courses can promote a more environmentally friendly game and raise awareness about important environmental issues.

Sharing Success Stories

Promoting the achievements of your golf course in going green can be a powerful way to inspire others to follow suit. By sharing success stories, you can showcase the positive impact that environmentally friendly practices can have on the environment, the economy, and the golfing community.

Here are some ways to share success stories:

  • Develop a case study: Create a detailed case study that highlights the steps your golf course has taken to become more environmentally friendly, the results you have achieved, and the benefits you have experienced. Share this case study with other golf courses, industry associations, and environmental organizations.
  • Host an event: Host an event or workshop that brings together golf course managers, environmental experts, and community members to share best practices and success stories. This can be an excellent opportunity to network and learn from others who are passionate about going green in golf.
  • Use social media: Use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share photos, videos, and stories about your golf course’s environmental initiatives. Use hashtags like #GoingGreenInGolf and #EcoFriendlyGolf to connect with others who are interested in this topic.
  • Partner with environmental organizations: Partner with local environmental organizations to promote your golf course’s environmental initiatives and to raise awareness about the importance of going green in golf. This can help to build credibility and visibility for your golf course, while also supporting important environmental causes.

By sharing success stories, you can inspire others to take action and adopt environmentally friendly practices in their own golf courses. This can help to create a ripple effect of positive change that benefits the environment, the economy, and the golfing community.


1. What are some ways to reduce my environmental impact while playing golf?

There are several ways to reduce your environmental impact while playing golf. One way is to walk instead of taking a golf cart, which can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, using a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic bottles can help reduce waste. You can also consider using environmentally friendly golf balls and tees, which are made from sustainable materials. Finally, properly disposing of trash and recycling whenever possible can help keep the course clean and reduce waste.

2. How can I reduce the water usage on the golf course?

There are several ways to reduce water usage on the golf course. One way is to repair any leaks or broken sprinklers as soon as possible, as these can waste a significant amount of water. Additionally, you can try to limit your use of the sprinklers during times of low humidity or rain, as this can help conserve water. Finally, using a divot repair tool instead of a watering can can help reduce water usage, as it allows you to water the grass more efficiently.

3. What are some sustainable alternatives to traditional golf course maintenance practices?

There are several sustainable alternatives to traditional golf course maintenance practices. One option is to use organic fertilizers and pesticides, which are less harmful to the environment than chemical alternatives. Additionally, using native grasses and plants can help reduce the need for water and chemicals, as they are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions. Finally, using sustainable landscaping techniques, such as mulching and composting, can help reduce waste and conserve resources.

4. How can I reduce my carbon footprint when traveling to and from the golf course?

There are several ways to reduce your carbon footprint when traveling to and from the golf course. One option is to carpool with other golfers, which can help reduce the number of cars on the road and conserve fuel. Additionally, using public transportation or biking to the course can help reduce your carbon footprint and provide a healthy form of exercise. Finally, choosing a golf course that is located close to home or work can help reduce the need for long distance travel.

The Most Sustainable Golf Course


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