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It’s a little-known fact that Hilton Head Island is home to two of the three locked harbors on the East Coast of the United States.

Most visitors to the island have heard of a lock or canal system, like the Panama Canal, but aren’t sure how the systems work or what they are.

A lock system is a combination of gates and a chamber that allows a vessel to go from one water system at one level to another system a different level.

IF YOU’VE SPENT ENOUGH TIME ON HILTON HEAD ISLAND, YOU’VE HEARD THE SOUND.

If you’ve spent enough time on Hilton Head Island, you’ve heard the sound. The distant thump thump thump of rotors beating the air, a barely audible drum line just barely audible over the sound of the waves, cars and other rhythms of a Hilton Head summer.

You’ve most likely heard that thump grow louder and scanned the skies for its source, finding it when a bright orange H-65 Coast Guard Dolphin bursts from over the tree line and makes its way to the water.

As we celebrate the birth of our nation on Independence Day, it’s worth noting just how important the Lowcountry was in the fight for that independence. Two historic sites just down the road from one another were at the heart of the battle.

Today, the Old Sheldon Church ruins have become one of the most sought-after wedding locations in the South. But the Yemassee landmark was once at the center of a Revolutionary War battle.

IF THE FIELD FOR THIS YEAR'S PLAYERS AMATEUR SEEMS ESPECIALLY TOUGH, THAT'S BECAUSE IT TENDS TO HAPPEN IN ODD YEARS — BETTER KNOWN IN AMATEUR GOLF CIRCLES AS WALKER CUP YEARS.

The world's best amateurs will tee up in the Lowcountry for the 16th consecutive year when the Players Amateur moves to Berkeley Hall Club’s North Course for the first time from July 9-12, and with Walker Cup invitations likely hanging in the balance, the competition should be as steamy as a South Carolina summer.

“Three all,” booms the man’s voice, still as loud and clear as it was years ago when he presided over the biggest tennis matches of the day.

Norm Chryst is not chairing this contest, however; he is serving in the match tiebreaker.

Wearing his hat backwards, a black polo and Rogers Cup shorts, Chryst tosses the ball, rocks back and leaps forward to strike a flat first serve.

One take on the greatest holes Hilton Head and Bluffton have to offer

This list isn’t right. It isn’t wrong. It’s just an opinion, and you know what they say about opinions. Everyone has one.

At the very least, here are 18 fantastic holes to play in the area, either for their design or the views from them. There are another 18 in the area that are equally good, and another and another. With more than 30 public and private courses lining one of the most beautiful places on earth, that’s 540 holes of golf and not a bad one among them. Really. Not one.

RETIRED VET OFFERS PHOTOGRAPHIC SALT MARSH TOURS

Larry Watts operated a popular veterinary practice on Hilton Head Island for nearly 30 years. When he wasn't busy treating the area’s animals, he could usually be found out on his boat, indulging his passion for wildlife photography. After taking an early retirement in 2005, Watts channeled his love of animals and photography into an exciting second career offering photography cruises of the local salt marshes.

Bluffton is well represented by Hannah Joy Brown, its first Miss Teen Bluffton.

If you see Hannah Joy Brown while you’re out and about in Bluffton, make sure you stop and say hi. She’ll be easy to spot — she’ll be the one in the sash and crown. And even if she’s not out in her official capacity as Miss Teen Bluffton, you’ll know her by her infectious smile and boundless enthusiasm.

So take a minute and say hello. It’s one of her favorite things about life in Bluffton.

POONA FORD COULD START FOR THE LONGHORNS AS A SOPHOMORE

The label "undersized" is not typically associated with a 5-foot-11-inch, 286-pound mass of mostly muscle like Poona Ford, who until he arrived at the University of Texas as a freshman defensive tackle couldn’t recall a time when he wasn't the biggest player on the football field.

Such is the current landscape of major college football that a mountain of a young man like Ford could stand to be a little larger. But anyone who thought that might hold him back doesn't know much about Ford.

With the summer heat setting in, many visitors and locals are scooping up frozen treats of all sorts after a hot day at the beach or pool. With anything from ice cream, gelato, Italian ice, frozen yogurt, smoothies and more awaiting your taste test all across the island, you’ll want to dig in right away to be sure you hit them all. Whether you are in search of all the delicious fruits in season this time of year or looking for that chocolate overload to energize you for a night of fun, the variety is out there. Don’t stand there melting in the heat of the sun; jump on that bike and ride to test out the island’s assortment of tasty frozen treats. Although you may want to read more about your options before you get too far down the road.

Is it a coincidence that “salsa” is both a dance and a fiery sauce? From pico de gallo to habanero, salsas can range from mild to "blow the roof off" levels. South Carolina has the hottest pepper on record. Measuring over 1.5 million on the Scoville heat scale, Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper set a Guinness World Record in 2013 for its spicy kick. Proceed with extreme, extreme, extreme caution!

This salsa recipe is great served with tortilla chips but also can be used in omelets or served over grilled seafood, chicken, steak and veggies — any recipe that needs a little zing and a burst of color. The secret is the activity in which the maker is engaging at the time of preparation; dancing the salsa, with its Latin American origins derived from the mambo, cha-cha-cha, Cumbia, and merengue will undoubtedly add some heat!

Marek Belka is a busy man. Designing a newly constructed space for The French Bakery, setting up a new kitchen, hiring additional staff and managing all the important details of opening a restaurant are keeping him well occupied. 

“I would not sleep until I found just the right lighting for the space,” Belka said. “My customers requested the look of French country. Because it is a much larger space than our former location, it is more challenging to make it cozy. I am proud to say my customers are my family. A group of my customers came by throughout our move to tell me what works and what doesn't. They gave us so much support when we came in three years ago, so we built this location based on their advice and suggestions.”

The Leamington homeowner didn’t really know what she wanted, but she knew she wanted it to be beautiful.

She and her husband bought their 4,600-square-foot second home three years ago because of its location, straddling a lagoon and the Arthur Hills Golf Course, and the interior layout. The only hitch was a black-and-gold and yellowish color motif.

In the good old days, interior cooling and heating were limited to a specific room or portion of a building with localized units. That worked out just fine, so long as the entire family didn't mind camping out in the living room. Some could afford more than one unit. Most could not.

Luckily, the invention of HVAC units changed the game.

Many people say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. That may be true most of the time, but not when the National Kitchen & Bath Association and many of its 60,000 members convened earlier this year for the organization’s annual convention.

These interior designers are spreading the word far beyond the Nevada border about trends in their industry and sharing with their clients new ideas from the convention.

If you have ever seen Disney’s film “Finding Nemo,” you know that jellyfish are no laughing matter. Upon finding a baby jellyfish, “Finding Nemo’s” Dory decides to name it “Squishy” and keep it as a pet. This lands her in a field of jellyfish, where she gets tangled in their tentacles and is stung multiple times. Here on Hilton Head, jellyfish come through the waters each year, especially after big storms. With a variety of different kinds of jellyfish, it is best to be knowledgeable and safe when spending time on the beach or in the water.

How many times have you walked the beaches of Hilton Head Island and seen a horseshoe crab on the sand? Large and dark, with long pointed tails, multiple legs and flat “book” gills on their underside, they are commonly seen on our beaches, both alive and as skeletons. They are from a very ancient time, and look more like a Frankenstein experiment gone wrong than a modern-day crab; but then, they are not really crabs.

Horseshoe crabs actually are most closely related to spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites, and their ancestors have existed on earth from a time before the dinosaurs, a time when the first fish with jaws appeared in the oceans and glacial melting brought about a significant rise in sea level.

IMPROVE YOUR INNER AND OUTER HEALTH FOR A HAPPIER LIFE

Beauty. There are a thousand definitions of the word beauty and truly it lies in the eye of the beholder. In this technological based world that is continually progressing, the word beauty is thrown around in various different situations. When most people think of the word beauty, they think of everything that is not beautiful about them.

Beauty is to feel free, natural, and confident both physically and mentally. It more than just looking perfect every day, it is how you feel on the inside and outside that will reflect your beauty.

There can be a lot of anxiety in finding the right person to help you buy or sell a home. After all, buyers will be spending a lot of time with their agents throughout the process, and those agents are helping them through arguably one of the biggest decisions of their lives. How could anyone possibly find the right real estate agent?

According to the National Association of Realtors’ latest profile of homebuyers and sellers, potential buyers should talk to friends and family to get their agent suggestions. In fact, 40 percent of buyers found their agents through a referral from friends, family members or neighbors, while another 12 percent used agents they had worked with before. On the seller side, 38 percent of sellers found their agents through referrals and 22 percent went with agents they had previously used.

Recently, I was at a mutual fund conference in Washington, D.C., with some of the best money managers in the world.  While the conference was mostly focused on equity investing, there was a good deal of attention given to target-date funds as they are also products of the Investment Company Act of 1940, or the 40 Act, as it is known today. As an aside, it is interesting to note that the 40 Act, which was enacted by the 76th Congress in the wake of the Great Depression, was 70 pages long and was passed with wide bipartisan support, allowed the Securities and Exchange Commission latitude in rule making and has withstood the past 75 years. So how do you like that, Dodd-Frank?

The Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors is alerting its members and the public of changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and Truth in Lending Act (TILA). These changes will take effect Aug. 1, and will significantly affect the closing process. 

On Nov. 20, 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued its final rule to integrate RESPA and TILA disclosures and regulations. The ruling integrates existing disclosures with new requirements from the Dodd-Frank Act to improve consumer understanding of the mortgage process, make it easier to comparison shop and help prevent surprises at closing.

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