North Liberty, IA

Sugar Bottom Rec. Area

3.845(based on 28 reviews)
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12 0
wolfhaley
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 19.8 years 970 played 542 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Reviewed: Played on:Aug 8, 2023 Played the course:once

Pros:

Sugar Bottom Rec. Area DGC was my favorite of the Iowa City area courses. It's a mostly wooded course with a few more open holes sprinkled throughout. There's no point in the round where it gets repetitive due to this design. Very good flow from hole to hole as well. The next tee arrows on the signs were a big help. I had zero issues navigating today.

The baskets are green Prodigy's. These are solid baskets imo. All of them caught good and were mounted level, even on some of the sloped greens. There's at least two pin positions on every hole. At least one hole (14) had four possible pin locations and quite a few had three. Always love to see this.

The tees are solid too. Nicely sized concrete pads. All were poured level and in good condition. One tee per hole. Definitely a pro here, especially on quite a few of the wooded holes that would've had some issues if they were just natural. Especially with how busy the course was on the Tuesday morning I played it.

There's a solid mix of different shot shapes needed out here. I even threw a couple forehands and I pretty much NEVER throw forehands. You can get by with only having one type of shot, but if you want to score well it'll be a challenge. There's a decent mix of distances too. This will vary, of course, depending on which pins where are in play.

The course is free to play and was in great shape. Really pretty piece of land for a course. It's a very serene place just minutes outside the hustle and bustle of Iowa City.

The tee signs are nice. These are mounted on 4"x4"s with white circles with the hole number on them facing the direction you'd be coming from on the prior tee. Don't recall ever seeing this before but it's a pretty simple yet awesome touch. The signs themselves have a pretty nice hole map which does a great job of depicting the hole and all the possible basket positions. It also has the hole #, pars and distances to each pin and best of all there's a roladex looking thing which has a letter indicating what pin is in the ground currently. As if that wasn't enough there's also bag hooks on the posts too. Can't ask for anything else.

Cons:

There are a couple holes that play a bit close to each other. Basically most of the open holes. It's not really that big of an issue, but is worth noting.

There are a few spots where you could lose a disc out here, That's the case on any wooded course though.

The course seems to be pretty busy, you may want to avoid it during peak hours in the summer if you're looking to play a quick round. Not really a con, just a heads up.

I got nothing else, and even the ones I do have are pretty minor things.

Other Thoughts:

We played 7 courses around Iowa City today and this one was my favorite of the bunch. It is absolutely worth a stop out here if you find yourself in the area or just passing through. I'd definitely recommend this one. Just a bunch of nice courses around this area, but if I could only play one next time, this would be it.
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2 2
BlackberryGirl
Experience: 15 played 15 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Beautiful 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Sep 20, 2020 Played the course:once

Pros:

Loved this course for its beauty and scenery.

It is very established so clear fairways

and the rough is not too bad.

Cons:

Had trouble finding correct lot - follow the sign to the Day Use area. The nice guard at campground helped us.

Other Thoughts:

Great course. I want to go back soon!
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10 1
knobby325
Gold level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 8.7 years 323 played 248 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Nice course, showing a little age 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:May 7, 2020 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

-Concrete tees
-Good mixture of holes (distance, open/wooded, left/right)
-Multiple pin locations
-Decent use of area / disc golf only area of park
-Decent signage (with a bolt showing which location at the moment)
-Good marker signs pointing to next hole in areas
-Some benches

Cons:

-A few missing tee signs
-Some benches in sad shape
-No trash cans (may have been to closed facilities at park)
-Only 1 hole marked a Par 4, all others a 3
-No 9 hole hole wrap around (Hole 9 ends at other end of area)
-No map at the start (although maps easily found online)

Other Thoughts:

Sugar Bottom Recreation Area DGC is a moderately skilled course that is part of the Coralville Lake area and overseen by the Army Corps. A good mixture of open/wooded, right/left, up/down/flat holes throughout the 18 holes gives good interest without being so overbearing as discouraging to the recreational player. A somewhat unique sign with a bolt indicating the current location of the basket (with up to 3 locations for some.) There were at least 3 missing tee signs, though and some of the benches were in rough shape. I did not see any trash cans, but this may have been with the facilities closed (due to COVID-19.) I like the Prodigy baskets, as they caught well. Especially for a rec player, like myself, all but one being a Par 3 seemed a bit harsh. A couple of those are more a 4. The pars and the somewhat degraded aspects (missing signs, sad benches) keep this from a higher rating. Would love to see a little love put in this course to bring it back to glory. Overall, a fun course to play. I will play again.
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2 6
mmeseck
Experience: 7.9 years 5 played 5 reviews
2.50 star(s)

Bras on the back 9 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Jun 5, 2016 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

It's a free course that they keep generally well maintained. There are a few holes that are fun to throw through and you can really let #18 rip going downhill. Nice mix of trees and open holes.

Cons:

No signage to tell you where the pin is located or the next tee box. A number of times you had to backtrack to get to the next hole. Not having signs you had to walk the course to find the pin you were throwing to. Lots of underbrush and narrow paths.

Other Thoughts:

Course is in need of a remodel as it is really starting to show it's age.
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0 6
madmaxxx
Experience: 10.8 years 16 played 5 reviews
5.00 star(s)

One of my favorites 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Sep 22, 2014 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Good variety of hole types. half is in forest and half is open. makes it easy to only play 9 if your in a rush or a beginner. Very cool scenery. Always awesome and friendly people around. parts of it make you feel like your on a hike. plenty of other activities to do in the park. Highly recommended!

Cons:

Not a whole lot to complain about. Tends to be quite busy so you may have to wait. No water hazards, which can be good or bad. holes in the open area sort of overlap, so if its your first time you may be a little lost on what basket your going for. Some blind shots with with thick foliage toward the end, ive seen many people searching for their discs.
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0 3
Mayes2158
Experience: 10.8 years 16 played 5 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Very Enjoyable Course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Oct 7, 2014 Played the course:once

Pros:

Nice mixture of open and wooded shots. Very good use of the terrain. Very enjoyable and quick course, was able to finish in just over an hour.

Cons:

I did not bring a map, so I did get turned around a couple times, getting from 3-4 and from 16-17, if you have your phone snap a picture of the map in the case at hole 1.

Other Thoughts:

I definitely look forward to playing this course again.
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0 5
iabengalfan
Experience: 12.8 years 5 played 5 reviews
3.00 star(s)

Fun 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Jun 8, 2014 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

The course was well marked, good mixture of hole placements, not too crowded, decent length, benches or something too sit on at every hole, people nice to get along with that u run into, we had a guy join us at the begining that was just practicing his throwing at the bgining of the course, and nice mixture or open and wooded

Cons:

muddy and buggy but that really is expected in Iowa lol
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10 0
MidwestZest
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 23.8 years 103 played 72 reviews
4.00 star(s)

FUN! 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:May 31, 2014 Played the course:once

Pros:

- Very nice park, with a great mix of open and wooded holes. And they're not all grouped together either, which is nice. A few open, a few wooded, a few open, a few wooded, etc. Most of the open holes are on undulating fairways, and not at all flat. Very well-manicured.
- Completely dedicated to disc golf in this part of the park. Very close, however, is a beach, bathrooms, and shelters. Also a very extensive biking/hiking trail.
- Trash cans here and there on the course, as well as benches.
- Plenty of parking, easy to find and start. Kiosk at the course start, with a map and scorecard pinned inside. You can take a picture of the course map if you'd like, but it's really not needed. Good signage for navigation, even though the layout is pretty obvious.
- Fantastic concrete tee pads and tee signs. Signs have movable bolts to show pin placement. Each pin has distance listed on the sign as well.
- Multiple pin placements on each hole, most have 3, a few have 2, and a few have more. Definitely adds good variety. For what it's worth, I talked to some of the caretakers in passing on the course. They mentioned that traditionally the pins have been changed 3 - 4 times each year, but they're going to try to be out to change them monthly. A course like this with so many pin options deserves great attention like this.
- I played a mostly longer setup today, and as would be expected it does seem as though it plays 3 or 4 strokes higher on a longer setup.
- #1 is a great opening hole. Plenty of room, but not overly easy.
- #4 is a long, wider tunnel shot that still requires very straight drives and approach shots.
- #6 is really the first encounter of a 'tight' wooded hole. Nice, small gap to hit right off of the tee.
- #10 is a wicked blind shot from the open fairway, hard left into the woods, with the pin 80' back into the woods. Cool design.
- #11 is a great downhill hole through the woods and across a dry creek bed. Not particularly hard to three, but probably decently hard to deuce. Great terrain.
- #18 was in the short position on my play-through, but I do enjoy long finishing holes, especially when they're not completely wide open. As if to say, "Whatcha got left in the tank son?"

Cons:

- Looks like some holes can probably get wet and stay wet after a bit of rain. Was also extremely buggy the day I went. Some other players mentioned that's not uncommon.
- The course did get very busy on the Saturday morning/afternoon that I went. A few very large groups at that (8+).
- Erosion around most tee pads.
- Not particularly impressed with #7 or #8. Fine holes, and not many other choices. Just a nice reprieve I suppose.
- I saw some, but not a lot of poison ivy on this course. The conditions are perfect for it however.
- Graffiti on quite a few signs, including plenty of male genitalia. Boys will be boys I suppose, but it's really quite unfortunate for a course of this caliber.

Other Thoughts:

- Aside from dealing with the bugs (which I assume is mostly seasonal) I really enjoyed my time here. Definitely worth a stop, and I will be returning. Right up there with Shaver Park for my favorite course in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area.
- Great shot lines and unique shots at every turn. Still areas to air it out and let loose too though, which is always great.
- Some easier holes, but none I would call 'gimmes.' Just reprieves.
- Not the most difficult of courses or layouts, but much more enjoyable to play than many, while still offering a solid challenge.
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2 0
IHearChains
Bronze level trusted reviewer
Experience: 19.8 years 203 played 34 reviews
4.00 star(s)

excellent variety 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Sep 23, 2012 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

This course is a very well-balanced course, in almost all respects. Densely wooded and scattered trees. Some short some long. Left, right, and straight holes. Uphill, downhill, and flat. Great variety.

Most holes, other than #10, have two or three basket positions and they are frequently moved. Only one set of tees, except for 14 which has a recently installed rubber pad for a long tee. There is OB road which is a factor on holes 17 and 18. A small creek (usually almost dry) can come into play on a couple of holes, and several holes have fairly thick rough so sometimes there is a reasonable penalty for going off the fairways. There are two legit par 4s (14 from the long tee and 18 in the two long basket positions) and two that might be borderline par 4 (9 and 16 in long positions) but its not hard to get 3s on these so some probably would consider them tweeners.

The disc golf area is segregated from the other park uses (which include hiking trails, a beach, a campground and a top-notch mountain biking trail network). Except for league nights or summer weekend afternoons, the course is not heavily used. Great location to get away from the daily stressors.

There is drinking water and bathrooms near hole 1, but they are seasonal.

Cons:

The road into the course closes during winter. It's possible to hike in during the winter but round trip that adds a couple mile to your walking.

The quality of some baskets is suspect. Hole 3 is frequently wet when the reservoir is high, and sometimes closed due to flooding. Hole 2 has the most horrendous poison ivy patch (behind and left of basket) I have ever seen.

There are a few short holes that are heavily worn and need redesign IMO, but they are locked in by surrounding holes and a neighboring mountain bike trail, so I doubt much can be done about that.

Other Thoughts:

Given the location near a network of coves of a big reservoir, it is regrettable that some of that land could not be used to create some more dramatic OB water hazards, but the water level is always changing and there are other park users in those areas so it is not really feasible.
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0 3
jwetter
Experience: 110 played 29 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Sugar Bottom Rec. Area 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Jun 15, 2012 Played the course:once

Pros:

-Well maintained park
-Good tees and baskets
-Easy to follow, the signage is good.
-Good variety of holes in and out of the woods
-Benches on almost every hole
-Multiple pin locations
-Quite challenging, especially 18

Cons:

-Seemed like there were a lot of throws that cut hard to the right, but that may have had to do with the pin locations on the day that we played.

Other Thoughts:

This park is worth the trip out there. I very much enjoyed it and would go play again!
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0 3
HamNThemGoinHam
Experience: 24.5 years 9 played 5 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Good Not Great 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Apr 14, 2012 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Well maintained with concrete pads and maps with alternate pin locations. Nice variety of wooded and open/hilly holes.

Cons:

Some of the open holes seem to lack challenge in not only shot shape but length. Some holes have been known to flood in the past rendering them unplayable.

Other Thoughts:

All around a nice course that can present a challenge but isn't too much for beginners at all.
Also there's something I like about courses ending with an extra long hole like 18 at Sugar Bottom, don't know what it is though...
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4 0
mashnut
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Experience: 22 years 831 played 767 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Nice recreational course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Mar 24, 2012 Played the course:once

Pros:

The course plays through a disc golf exclusive area of a larger park. The course is nicely maintained, with benches, nice concrete tees, adequate signs and some nice landscaping work done around several of the tees. The course plays through a mix of grassy areas with mature trees and heavier woods. The open holes offer some longer shots including the 700'+ finishing shot, and has a few shots using some decent elevation changes to add some challenge.

The wooded holes have a nice variety of lines, with a decent balance of left and right turning holes. The rough is thick enough that errant shots are punished, with pitch outs as the best option in some areas. Multiple pin placements throughout the course seem like they would keep the course feeling fresh, they offer some different lines to hit and increase the replayability of the course. Navigation is pretty straightforward.

Cons:

Several of the holes in the open play pretty close to one another, with lots of potential for errant shots to end up on other fairways. Hole 18 plays along a few other holes, and going for big distance increases the chance of spraying drives off into other groups. The park style shots aren't all that challenging other than a couple longer holes, the lines are pretty straightforward. The wooded shots offer fun lines but are similar lengths and mostly call for putter and mid shots from better players.

Other Thoughts:

Beginners might find the wood holes punitive, though the distances are reasonable. More experienced players won't find too much of a test here, but it's an enjoyable course with a few really enjoyable shots. This is a great course to learn some new disc golf skills for newer players, and for a quick stress-free round for skilled throwers.
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5 0
notapro
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 20.6 years 568 played 281 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Beginner/Intermediate 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Mar 25, 2012 Played the course:once

Pros:

- Course is set in a gigantic rec area, but it seems like no other activities would interfere with the disc golf. The park road runs by a few holes, but that's about it.
- Holes are pretty much split between a forested area and an open area with mature trees, with a few in between. The tighter ones are the shortest, but there are some fun lines to be found. A couple good RHBH anhyzer shots, and enough trees to punish errant shots. Elevation changes can play a big role, with sloping greens and hazardous ditches.
- The holes out of the woods have more length, and more noticeable elevation changes. Mature trees do a good job to force line shaping. #7-#10 play down, up, up, and down the hillside, which adds to the enjoyment. #17 is fun downhill/valley shot, and #18 is a true bomber hole; gently sloping downhill with a LONG pin placement around 700'.
- Some of the better holes are semi-wooded; clear fairways with big trouble. #3, #14, and #15 have rough on both sides of the fairway, with some shorter trees to get around. Good par 3's; definitely deucable but not too easy. #4 is longer, but more clear, #16 has a blind basket next to the woods.
- Good signage, teepads, and baskets. Flow can be a little weird, but there are signs to help.

Cons:

- Layout here is a little cramped in some spots, especially in the open. Many holes play near or next to each other, it is definitely a good idea to keep an eye out for stray discs at all times.
- A lot of shorter holes here, especially in the woods. 6 of the holes are under 220', and aren't terribly tight. The longer holes are the most open as well, with a few exceptions.
- Holes out in the open are cut-and-dry, still enjoyable, but not too exciting.

Other Thoughts:

- All in all, the course has good variety with the open and wooded holes. Enough elevation changes, and different lines, to keep the holes interesting from start to finish. Some tricky pin placements and places with nasty rough to provide some more challenge as well. Good course for beginners and experienced players alike, advanced players will be able to cruise through.
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3 4
Iowa420DG
Bronze level trusted reviewer
Experience: 13 years 457 played 41 reviews
4.50 star(s)

Best in the area! 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Mar 11, 2012 Played the course:once

Pros:

Great mixture of all types of shots: short, wooded-finesse shots, long wooded, long and short opens, wooded elevation, open elevation... good risk/reward shots. This course will test your skills

Cons:

Some heavy foliage provides a harsh hazard on some holes. No water near play

Other Thoughts:

If you're in the North Liberty/Iowa City area, your top three choices for courses are this one, Turkey Creek, and Peninsula Park; this one is the best!
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1 9
wadeG
Experience: 50 played 9 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Mixture of partially open and wooded holes 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Sep 7, 2011 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

A good mixture of partially open and wooded holes. Has a good amount of elevation changes and a healthy amount of variety of shots that make this course one of the better ones in the area. Well mowed fairways, teepads, benches, and flows well.

Cons:

Could use a few longer holes and more significant elevation.
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2 7
pdgamember
Experience: 20 years 5 played 3 reviews
4.50 star(s)

Fun 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Jun 26, 2011 Played the course:once

Pros:

Great Course with a lot of great holes...18 is one of the best finishing holes around. You can even take a dip in the res after your round.

Cons:

A little muddy..but with all this rain...where isn't

Other Thoughts:

Keep it up..This course gets better and better every time I play it!
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0 8
titansnow
Experience: 24.8 years 48 played 1 reviews
4.50 star(s)

Course Looked Awesome 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Jun 26, 2011 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Good mix of elevation, open, and wooded holes

Cons:

When muddy, can be slippery.

Other Thoughts:

Just played this course for Weekend at the Rez tournament put on by Titan Disc Golf. The course looked amazing. The course was groom very well. USACE is responsible for for maintaining this course and does a pretty darn good job. Thanks Titan, Thanks USACE
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10 0
lazy42
Silver level trusted reviewer
Experience: 14.7 years 40 played 39 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Nice course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Aug 14, 2010 Played the course:once

Pros:

Another great course on the reservoir. Nice tee's. Some have landscaping blocks around many of the tee areas, to make sure the tee pads are nice and level. Signs were helpful. Course looks to be very well maintained, open fairways mowed nicely. Multiple pin placements available. I saw several other players and small group, but nothing that would hold up play. Nice variation of holes to keep it fair and reward you for good throws; ones that you will need to be played perfect to get a par, many that you have a chance for a birdie with a well placed throw, and several that if you get off the fairways, you will struggle to come back for a bogey. Wooded holes had nice tight fairways. Even on the open holes, it wasn't just a straight grip and rip, there are enough fully grow trees that you still had to have a good throw and pay attention to your lies. Elevation present, but nothing extreme, nice rolling hills. Plenty of benches through out to rest on.

Cons:

Not a lot of bad here, so I am being really, really picky, most of it more just noting not really a Con. Can get some flooding around hole 3. I didn't see any standing water but 90% of the hole was mostly drying mud. Even though I commented on the tee's and areas around them above in the Pro's, some of the tee pads were covered with mud from runoff and erosion, though probably not an issue most of the time. Some of the tee signs were on the side of the tee pad towards the front, some were on side towards the back, and some straight behind tee pad. Not a big deal and it takes nothing away from play or course enjoyment, just worth noting as I thought it was unusual for their locations to be so random.

Other Thoughts:

Several really nice holes that were a joy to play. 1 isn't as easy as it looks, as long as you can throw nice and level. 10 was my favorite. Looks like an open hole, yet the basket is tucked just inside the wooded area. If you get the distance and turn right, you'll be sitting great. 15 was interesting, as a right handed player with a weak forehand, throwing backhand on this hole, your disc fades with the hill, making your next shot difficult to get up the hill and around the tree. Don't take 16 for granted, unless you brought extra discs. Overall, I enjoyed playing course, and the beauty of the area is amazing. With so many great things to say, game play/fun was not as high for me as some other courses I have visited in the area, thus reflected in the rating. Again, there were some nice holes, but not many that just kept the excitment or wow factor all the way through. Though out of the way for most, it is well worth the trip and players will not be disappointed. Plan on playing Sugar Bottom and Turkey Creek for an amazing day of DG!!
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2 4
sting2387
Experience: 21.5 years 11 played 4 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Fun Course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Jul 22, 2009 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Never busy, it is fairly far off of the beaten path, so not many people ever play this course. There are a variety of holes which keeps it interesting.

Cons:

As, I said before, it's pretty far off of the beaten path. It is about a 20-30 minute drive from Iowa City. Thick woods around some of the holes can come into play and could make finding errant throws almost impossible. Some of the baskets are pretty banged up and need to be replaced.

Other Thoughts:

Overall, this is probably my favorite course in the Iowa City area. If you don't mind a little bit of a drive, you will be rewarded by not having to wait at all during play.
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1 5
walker139
Experience: 14.6 years 188 played 7 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Two Thumbs Up 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:May 6, 2012 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Technical course, with a nice use of elevation. Multiple pin locations, and cement tee pads. In the long position this course is tough and will challenge you. In the shorts it is still no walk in the park, though a couple ace runs exist.

Cons:

It can get a bit wet after rains, hole 3 will occasionally flood. Some erosion around a few pins, but the local club is continually improving the course condition. Parking lot is in adjacent to hole 18.

Other Thoughts:

It can get spontaneously busy when those beautiful summer days arrive. The club takes good care of the local courses.
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