If you have come here to find the elusive “Perfect Golf Swing” let me just say first that no one perfect golf swing exists. Watching slow motion youtube golf swing clips of Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, or Ben Hogan for hours trying to find the perfect technique or perfect mechanics for the lower body or elbow isn’t going to give you the perfect golf swing mechanics either. No doubt these golfers have great golf swings that look great in slow motion. However, you might just destroy your full golf swing by trying to achieve positions that they seem to hit in their swing. That is what happened to me 12 years ago. Everyone wants to know how to get the perfect golf swing, but while searching for the perfect golf swing in slow motion video is great for swing analysis, it is not the answer to finding your best swing.

With that being said, I will show you golf instruction videos below that will show you how to start perfecting your golf swing if you keep reading this golf swing guide. Every golfer has different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. We are not robots that can be programmed to perform a perfect on plane golf swing over and again. Golf swing improvement really begins when you understand and maximize your strengths in your golf swing while limiting your weaknesses. You will start to produce the best possible results quickly with an ideal golf swing you built yourself. Let’s start to give you the golf swing help you are looking for and your best golf swing ever.

Perfect Golf Swing

Photo Credits: @mytpi on Twitter

If there was only one way to swing a club, Jim Furyk should go ahead and give back all $67,376,752 (as of January 2017) he has made on Tour (This is good for 4th in all time winnings for the record). Lee Trevino or Arnold Palmer should probably go ahead and give back their earnings too.

David Phillips, a co founder of the Titleist Performance Institute said “Many perfect swings exist” in the NBC article Golf: Is there a Perfect Swing?

If you are still having doubts that is is more than one way to swing a club perfectly, check out this fascinating research article that the TPI’s Paul Glazier and and Keith Davids wrote called The Perfect Golf Swing: Dispelling The Myth.

Here is an excerpt of their findings:

Perfecting Golf Swing

The first line in the conclusion states:

“Owing to the variability in technique within and between golfers, the ‘perfect’ golf does not exist.”

The best swing in golf is one that you can repeat time and again and get the desired results. Legendary Golf Instructor John Jacobs put it best.

“The sole purpose of the golf swing is to produce a correct repetitive impact. The method employed is of no significance as long as it is correct and repetitive.” – John Jacobs

I would like to start by going over some of the fundamentals, concepts, and some misconceptions that I feel are very important in a golf swing and things that can help you better understand the swing and find the ultimate golf swing for you.

Golf Swing Terms

Before we go about the perfect golf swing step by step, there are a few terms and concepts you need to know. Check out the golf swing breakdown from my previous articles in this series covering the basics. We cover items like golf posture, golf setup, the golf grip, and the mechanics of a golf swing.

The Golf Grip: How to Grip a Golf Club (HOW TO HOLD A GOLF CLUB FOR YOUR SWING TYPE)


Golf Swing Tips for Beginners to Improve Your Golf swing (A BASIC SWING TECHNIQUE GUIDE FOR HITTING YOUR DRIVER AND IRONS)

Now that you have some background, let’s introduce some new concepts and terms: The correct golf swing plane, the one plane vs two plane golf swings, impact, and the golf swing release, the relationship of the golf swing path and the club face and ball flight Laws. Understanding these concepts is extremely important in understanding how to get better and perfecting your golf swing.

Golf Swing Plane

What is a swing plane? The swing plane is nothing more than the circle created during the golf swing as the club head travels during the entirety of the golf swing. The technical definition according to Trackman is:

The vertical angle of the plane relative to the horizon defined by the club head’s center of gravity movement prior to impacting the golf ball.

OK now in Lehman’s terms. Here is my working definition:

The golf swing plane is an imaginary line used to describe the path and direction on which the club head swings. 

The golf swing follows a circular pattern, or arc, and the swing plane is literally the line made by the club head as it travels along this arc. There are two main factors that produce a ball’s direction in the swing plane. The club path and the club face. The club path typically refers to the direction the club is moving during the downswing. 

One of the biggest challenges that comes with understanding swing plane is that you can’t see it when you swing.

You want to visualize the path of your golf club swinging around in a circle like a hula hoop instead of swinging straight back and straight through. The correct golf swing plane is circular and not straight back and straight through. I know that trying to swing straight back and through seems like a good idea, but I am here to tell you that it will just lead you to frustration. You can hit fat, thin, hooks, and slices on 4 different shots if you swing straight back and through. Trust me, you don’t want that frustration in your golf swing.

Perfecting Golf Swing

Photo Credit: J.D. Cuban – Golf Digest

The most common way to look at the golf swing plane is from behind the golfer. Think of the one plane swing line as an imaginary line that starts at your club shaft hosel at address and shoots straight up your golf shaft. For a two plane golf swing, you draw the line from the hosel to the top of your shoulder.

Perfecting Golf Swing

Photo Credit:

A one plane swing is designed to swing the club more shallow through impact and on a more in-to-in swing path. The perfect golf swing plane for the for a one plane golf swing is the shaft plane line. Swinging on the shaft plane line is important in order to be able to hit the golf ball straight.

A two plane swing is designed to swing the club more steep through impact and on a more in-to-out swing path. Ball flights will be curved either left or right. Two plane golfers will square the club with rotation so the shoulder plane line will typically only be important in the downswing only.

One Plane vs Two Plane Golf Swings

Now that you have an idea of what a swing plane is and the relationship the golf swing path and the face, what swing plane do you swing on? Do your arms swing up to be more or less on the same plane as the shoulders or do you swing the arms and shoulders on two different planes at the top of your swing? Here is a quick overview of the one vs two plane golf swings.

If you would like more information on the proper golf swing mechanics of the one and two plane golf swing in greater detail, check out my article called “How to Swing a Golf Club (A HOW TO GOLF SWING VIDEO GUIDE OF THE GOLF SWING BASICS AND MECHANICS)”. I have no doubt you will find something in the article to help you find a proper golf swing technique for your swing.

Impact of a Golf Swing

Now that you know if you are a one or two plane swing, lets add another concept: the bottom of the golf swing.

Bottom of the Swing Plane

The major difference between pros and amateurs is that the pros make “ball-divot contact”. What the heck does that mean?

When you have created the perfect bottom of the swing plane, the club will hit the ball first and then take a divot in the ground in front of the ball.
Perfecting Golf Swing

Photo Credit:

Jim Hardy, in his “Breaking 100” article from the September 2007 issue of Golf Digest, states “The simplest way to visualize swing plane is to imagine an airplane landing on a runway. You must have the right combination of forward movement and up and down movement to land.”
Perfecting Golf Swing

Photo Credit: Golf Digest

You want the club to come in like a plane landing on a runway at the bottom of golf swing plane near the impact position. Not too steep or too shallow.

When I can get a student to change a significant piece of their technique by making the swing that is too steep more shallow, or making a too shallow swing more steep using the + and – system created by Jim Hardy, I can change the ball flight very quickly and help the student get the results they are looking for.

I discuss Jim Hardy’s plus and minus system in great detail in a previous article called “Golf Swing Tips for Beginners to Improve Your Golf swing (A BASIC SWING TECHNIQUE GUIDE FOR HITTING YOUR DRIVER AND IRONS)”.

The Release of a Golf Swing

A man named Henry Cotton is considered the “Father” of the release of the golf swing.  Cotton was much different than the other golf instructors in his time because he payed attention to the wrists and hands in the golf swing much more than his fellow instructors. Cotton said golfers need to educate the hands.

Henry Cotton discovered three different types of releases:

  • Crossover
  • Slap-Hinge
  • Push Release

Modern golf instruction focuses more on positions to be achieved during the swing and a passive role for the hands. I think this is where modern instruction goes wrong personally.

To my knowledge, the release of the golf swing has never really been written about in great detail with the exception of Henry Cotton.

That is until now.

Jim Hardy just released a book about the release called “The Release: Golf’s Moment Of Truth” to teach about the release and the huge significance in the complete golf swing.

Watch the best golf swing video I have ever seen about the release of the golf swing below by Jim Hardy. Click play to get a basic understanding of the release of the golf swing.

The Relationship of the Golf Swing Path and the Club Face

One of the many things the guys on tour do so well is controlling their path and face relationship during a round under stress. If you are really looking to perfect your swing, you should be working on this relationship too.

Have you ever worked directly on club face or swing path? My guess is that you either said “huh?” or “what the heck are those?” What about out-to-in or in-to-out?

Check out this proper golf swing video from Chris O’Connell from the Plane Truth on the unique relationship of the swing path and club face:


Virtually all of the golfers I teach will have heard the terms “out to in” or an over the top golf swing (referring to a club path moving left of the target line on the downswing) or “in to out” or an inside out golf swing (referring to a club path moving to the right of the target line on the downswing).

An out-to-in path often times creates a pulled or sliced shot. While an in-to-out path can create a pushed or hooked shot.

Many great players had swing paths either to the right or left of the target line through impact. Take for example Jack Nicklaus who made his career hitting the fade or Tom Watson who made his career hitting a draw.

To hit a perfectly straight shot it is necessary to have a square club face and a relatively in-to-in swing path through impact.

You do not have to hit the ball straight to play great golf. Some of the greatest players are able to play great golf by shot shaping. They create consistent and repeatable shots by consistently hitting a draws or fades with great club face control.  It is not a necessity to have a square swing path to play great golf.

Check out this great video about the relationship between the  club face and the swing path:

So which one is more important?

The club face is responsible for the majority of the direction of the golf ball. With the driver the club face controls about 85 percent of a ball’s starting direction. With irons, the club face accounts for about 75 percent of a golf balls starting direction.

The swing path is accountable for roughly 20% of the beginning direction of the golf ball.

Does that mean you should spend most of your golf practice time on squaring the club face? Yes and no.

You will find it is easier to control a club path than it is to control the club face in a full speed golf swing. Timing is a huge part of squaring the club face. Controlling the club path does not require nearly as much timing. I suggest mastering the club path first and then the club face.

Now that you know about this unique marriage, are you going to work directly on the club face or swing path first? You should constantly work to balance your swing path and control the club face at impact. You will be sure to solve a number of your swing problems right there.

Ball Flight Laws

Old Ball Flight Rules

John Jacobs gave birth to the idea that the ball and a divot (or lack there of sometimes) does not lie. Hall of Fame Golf Instructors like Butch Harmon, Jim Hardy, Martin Hall, and Hank Haney have all credited John Jacobs teaching them the original ball flight laws as a key moments in their learning to diagnose a golf swing.

Now I am not the biggest fan of strapping a golfer up to every piece of technology available to try and hit certain numbers. However, technology has given us some amazing data and the ability to completely understand how the golf ball flies depending how we make contact with it. Shoot, you can even purchase your own personal pocket sized launch monitor for $350 with the Swing Caddie 2.

With the invention of TrackMan and FlightScope, we know exactly what causes ball flight and how they are produced and the original ball flight laws are now obsolete.

How do these devices like TrackMan, FlightScope, and Swing Caddie work? See for yourself.

Here are the old golf ball flight laws:

Perfecting Golf Swing

Photo Credit: Perfect Golf Swing Review

New Ball Flight Rules

There is a great article from Tom Stickney II called Use the New Ball Flight Laws to Understand Your Tendencies about D-Plane and the new ball flight laws that were found by the use of TrackMan.

In the image below Tom breaks down the New Ball Flight laws.

Perfecting Golf Swing

Photo Credit:

Now that we know the golf ball actually starts in the direction of the face angle at impact and curves away from the club path (assuming it was it in the center of the club face). What happens when shots are hit off-center?  Well, we have something called the “Gear Effect” that changes the launch and spin of a shot. Martin Chuck of Revolution Golf is explaining explaining the gear effect in the video below.

If D Plane and the new ball flight rules still look like Mandarin Chinese to you, check out this fantastic video Matthew Reagan created that explains the new ball flight laws in a visual way that almost anyone can understand.

How to Create the “Perfect Golf Swing”

Now that you understand the swing plane (including the bottom), one and two plane golf swings, impact and release, the path/face relationship, and the D plane and new ball flight rules, let’s discuss some perfect golf swing tips that I think you should know. I believe you should start by recording a video of your golf swing on your phone or a video camera. I want you to  see what video of your golf swing truly looks like. You may think it looks like 2000 Tiger Woods in your head, but the first step to actually correcting your impact and ball flight is seeing what your swing really looks like.

Golf Swing Analysis

There are a few things that you need to have when you video your swing. I found a great video on how to record your golf swing by PGA Golf Professionals Andrew Proudman and Piers Ward.

You will really only need the down the line view at this time to find out if you are naturally a one or two plane golfer but they give a great tutorial of what we instructors are looking for and how to record your swing.

If you want to video your swing on you phone, there are some really good apps out there for capturing video on your phone. Here are a few that I have used or are currently using to video and analyze golf swings. These are for both Android and iPhone.

Hudl Technique

Coach’s Eye


Do you need a great piece of equipment to use with your phone and golf bag to record your swing? Check out the Golf Gadgets Swing Recording System:

Now that you have recorded your golf swing. Time to have a look and see what characteristics you naturally have.

Does your swing look more like this?

Or does your swing look more like this?

Chances are you have more of one of these moves in your swing. You may even have a two plane back swing and a one plane downswing. I found that I mixed a lot of both in my swing when I first video recorded my swing 7 years ago.

Now that you can see which of the two you most identify with naturally, time to choose which direction to go. You should choose between the”One Plane” single plane golf swing technique or you should choose the more vertical plane “Two Plane” technique. Whichever is the more natural golf swing feel for you personally.


There is a huge difference between doing something that you see in slow motion and actually doing it in real time speed. More than likely you will not have the same natural athletic ability to mimic swing mechanics of your favorite golfers. Trying to copy moves you see in slow motion over and again on YouTube will lead you to paralysis by over analysis.

Almost all of my students are mixing one-plane fundamentals with two-plane fundamental elements because of the endless stream of tips and videos they watch and try to incorporate into their swing. You are just setting yourself up for frustration as soon as you take your 2000 Tiger Woods Swing” out for a spin on the course. Add stress and tension out on the course you will go back to your natural tendencies. You might as well work with your natural tendencies rather than fight them.

Trust me. The swing will never look like you want it to and you will end up frustrated beyond all belief and may consider leaving golf forever. That is what happened to me when I was 24 years old and I gave up playing golf for nearly 5 years out of pure frustration.

The Golf Backswing

Obsession with the “Perfect Back Swing”

I absolutely love this image as I see so many students and other instructors working constantly on the back swing with their golfers. Ben Hogan used to say a back swing has never hit a golf ball and I believe he is absolutely correct.

Perfecting Golf Swing

So many of my students came to me asking for golf lessons to improving their back swing and I start by asking them why only the backswing? Most of the time after a few questions the truth comes out. They want their swing to be pretty. I get it. Don’t get me wrong. I am not meaning to say that you shouldn’t work on the back swing, but I think it is lower on the list of things to work on first. I want my swing to be pretty too. But wouldn’t you rather start with a swing that gets results for you first and then add “pretty” to it afterwards?

If a “pretty” back swing is so important, how do golfers like Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson play so well?  If you ask anyone who has the ugliest or worst looking swing on the Tour and undoubtedly they will say Jim Furyk. I wish my swing was that “ugly”. I will take that “ugly” swing all day to get the kind of results that Jim Furyk has gotten on Tour. Jim Furyk took that “ugly” swing and made PGA TOUR history becoming the first player to record a 58 in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship. 

So do you really need a “pretty” or “perfect back swing” to hit the ball well?

Check out this guy and his back swing…

He absolutely bombed it without a “perfect” back swing. Crazy how that happened. You see golfers with “perfect” back swings hit some of the worst shots you will ever see. Check out these great golfers “perfect” back swings with horrible results.

Gotta love that sweet hosel rocket from Tom Kite. Heads up in the front row folks…

I get it. Some back swings have a a different look than what you typically see on Tour. Some golfers have a lot going on in their back swing. Check out Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan’s swings.

According to the article entitled Tiger’s coach seeks to fix Barkley’s golf swing, “Barkley once was a 10-handicap golfer and could break 80. Now he can’t break 100.” Not so sure he ever broke 80 after seeing that swing.

Michael Jordan plays to a 3 handicap according to the Golf Digest article “Top 150 Athlete Golfers”.

Honestly, they have pretty similar backswing’s, the major difference again is the down swing. Jordan has more of a baseball down swing, where Barkley has a (WTF) stop and start downswing.

In the video below David Duval talks about patience and pause in the position at the top into the transition. I think slowing things down a bit mentally in the back swing will help you a tremendous deal.

The answer is to a “perfect” back swing is simple: Get the club back to a comfortable position for you and then just let it rip. 

I want you to feel like you are simply changing your starting position from address to the most comfortable position you feel at the top of your back swing.

When you get to a comfortable position at the top of your swing the move to the ball should be almost automatic. 

The Golf Downswing

The Obsession with Golf Swing Lag and Forward Shaft Lean

Anywhere you go on the internet you will see tips for creating more and more “lag”.

It seems like everyone wants to copy the image below and add more lag and holding the lag to get the shaft to lean forward at impact. 

perfect golf swing

Photo Credit:

You will literally see thousands of videos dedicated to lag and forward shaft lean. Anywhere there are golfers you will find golfers struggling to get and maintain lag. The real question is do you really even want more lag or extra forward shaft lean in the first place?

Let me start with what lag is and what forward shaft lean does to a golf swing before we see if you really need more lag.

What is Lag?

How would we define lag in the golf swing?

The deliberate or unconscious act of the club head trailing behind the hands and arms from the top of the golf swing down into impact.


Lag starts when you transition into the downswing. The club head literally lags behind the arms and snaps forward in line with the left arm the split second before the club head makes contact with the ball.

Golfers are taught to “hold the angle” on the downswing to create more lag on purpose for additional snap and extra club head speed. Many “swing models” are more or less built on this principle.

Forward shaft lean is the bi-product of trying to hold lag as long as possible. In the video, Stickney adds that too little lag adds loft to the club head and can be just as bad.

The measurement of “lag” is the amount of angle between the club shaft and our trail forearm. If you try are intentionally trying to get more lag, what ends up happening is the shaft of the club gets stuck behind the arms with no where to go.

If you “delay the hit” or try to “hold the lag” the club, it gets stuck behind you and you end up trying to square the club face with a lot of timing in the impact zone and potentially a lot of forearm rotation.

Most of your balls will end up going either left or right depending how hard and fast you close the club face or how much you leave it open at impact.

When you close the club face hard (up to 180 degrees) at impact you will get a massive amount of curvature of the ball after impact. The more you try to delay the hit, the more the club leans forward, de-lofting the club and causing a lot of potential issues at the bottom of the swing.

Do you Really Want to Hold the Lag?

The short answer is no. A lot of modern golf instruction talks about creating the most possible lag angle and holding it through impact to create distance. When you do this though, you are more or less just dragging the club through impact and not actually adding club head speed. Trying to hold the lag is actually robbing you of the very club head speed you are trying to create.

If you are a two plane golfer, I would argue that you don’t actually want any additional lag! If you are a two plane golfer I would say you want more leverage and not extra lag.

Lag in the golf swing is a one plane golf swing phenomenon often mixed with two plane golf swing. Creating lag is fine in a one plane swing until the club gets stuck behind you. Once the club is stuck, you need to get it unstuck. More about this below.

What you really want is leverage in a two plane golf swing, not lag. We will cover leverage in a golf swing below.

Check out the leverage Jack Nicklaus used to get.

Holding the lag is more of a problem than a solution to your problems. Manufactured lag will never create the favorable impact conditions you think they do.

What is Forward Shaft Lean?

A forward leaning shaft at impact is defined as the grip end of the club intentionally getting to a point ahead of the golf ball through impact.

Perfecting Golf Swing

Photo Credits: Golfwrx

I love the picture above because people are told to believe this is the only position you need to create at impact and that pros routinely get into this position at or after impact.

I am here to tell you that tour pros never actually get to this position.

If a pro ever really got into this position consistently, they would not be on tour very long. Either they would destroy their back or they would not be able to keep a ball on a green.

Trying to get this much forward shaft lean literally destroys golf swings. If you were to actually get into the positions you think you are supposed to be in, the ball would fly very low and fall out of the air very quickly. The ball would also have absolutely no stopping power when it hit the green. You would hit the ball fat and thin from one shot to the next with no rhyme or reason.

Get this position with a driver and now but you literally have to use your lower back to help get the ball into the air at impact. Your dynamic loft angle will be screwy and you will get a bad back in a hurry. Does this sound familiar? A former great player that has had multiple back surgeries in the past couple of years? Ding Ding Ding you guessed it. Tiger Woods.

You want to see what too much forward shaft lean does to a golfer with a driver? Check out Brandel Chamblee assessment of Tiger’s swing from 2014.

Here is the tweet Brandel was referencing:

Perfecting Golf Swing

Photo Credit: @GolfDigestMag on Twitter

The only real possible benefit of forward leaning shaft is that you will hit your irons farther, but the only reason is that you are turning a 7 iron into a 5 iron.

Take the typical forward leaning shaft demonstration for what it is. Not a practical impact position, rather a mythical position of where some golf instructors think your hands should be through the impact zone.

What I am trying to get across is that just because you think a tour pro does something doesn’t mean that they actually are or that everyone should all do it.  Too much of anything can be bad, especially in a golf swing.

What Can You do Instead of Holding the Lag?

I recalled another article by Tom Stickney that I read a few years ago called “Impact location by Handicap”. I recall seeing some truly staggering pictures that shows what is going on at impact in 10 golf swings from Tour players all the way down to the 30 handicap golfer. The Tour player hit 10 shots and the amateurs hit 5 shots with some foot spray on the club face.

Here are the impact results:

Perfecting Golf Swing

Tour Pro (Image via Golfwrx)

Perfecting Golf Swing

7 Handicap Golfer (Image via Golfwrx)

Perfecting Golf Swing

15 Handicap Golfer (Image via Golfwrx)

Perfecting Golf Swing

30 Handicap Golfer (Image via Golfwrx)

See how much wilder and more random the spread is the higher the handicap. I have seen the average amateur student pick up over 25 yards simply from more centered and consistent strikes.

First and foremost, work on your swing path and club face relation to hit it more like the pros. The Dustin Johnson’s of the world have perfected the bottom of the swing and most of the amateur golfers of the world have not.

We have to build a swing where the bottom of the arc arrives at the same point nearly every time to play consistent golf. Every golfer should be working to get a consistent bottom of the swing plane on every swing. 

How Do You Work on Your Swing Path and Club Face Relationship?

To improve your swing path and club face relationship, check out these video’s below.

If you are a one plane golfer, check out this video from Jim Hardy himself about the downswing getting unstuck and perfecting your path and club face in the downswing:

Your golf swing thoughts should focus on throwing the club around your body.

If you are a two plane golfer looking for more power in your golf swing, add some power via more leverage instead of adding more”lag” to your swing. Check out out this awesome video to perfect the swing path and club face for the two planer.

Your golf swing thoughts should focus around pulling down with your left arm.


This may be hard for you to hear but the truth is nobody has ever developed a perfect method of swinging a golf club. The “perfect golf swing” is a myth. Look at the Golf Hall of Fame and see how many different swings there are. There are a plethora of BOTH One and Two plane golfers represented. All have different quirks and some have different releases. The only “Perfect Golf Swing” is the one that lets you hit the ball with predictable ball flight and consistent results. It really doesn’t make a difference how your swing looks, as long as you can repeat a golf swing and know what the ball is going to do once it leaves the club face, you will play better golf. There is no one way to teach a golf swing. Each golfer has their own ability and coordination. Humans are not robots that can be programmed to hit perfect shot after shot. Perfecting the golf swing is a lifelong juggling act for most of us.

Creating a golf swing that is correct and repetitive at impact should be the goal of every golfer no matter what the skill level or handicap.

Looking for in person golf instruction? Check out the directory of  Jim Hardy’s Certified Instructors. The network of instructors spans over a dozen countries all over the world. Use the link below to find the nearest Plane Truth Certified Instructor in your area.



Associated Press. “Tiger’s coach seeks to fix Barkley’s golf swing”.

Bestrom, Craig and Furlong, Lisa. “Top 150 Athlete Golfers”.

Davids, Keith and Glazier, Paul. “The Perfect Golf Swing: Dispelling The Myth”,

GolfWRX Staff. “Chamblee, Nobilo get heated over Tiger’s swing changes”.

Hardy, Jim with Rudy, Matthew. (2007) “Breaking 100”. Golf Digest September Edition.

Stickney II,. Tom. “Impact location by handicap”.

TrackMan. “Swing Plane”.

Further Reading

Science of Impact: Recent breakthroughs prove you need two swings to score low

The science of a golf ball

7 quick and easy things you can learn from Jim Hardy

John Jacobs: A Life Full Of Lessons


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