Key to US Open autographs: “You gotta have long arms”

Being an autograph hound is not for the weak of heart.

Ed Dooley of Sequim arrived at Chambers Bay about 5:45 a.m. Monday to claim his spot along the rail between the driving range and the practice green.

Dooley, a retired Air Force veteran with a bad back, carried a homemade clipboard (extra wide), a Sharpie marker and a willingness to approach strangers to ask them for their autographs.

He didn’t go away disappointed.

By 9 a.m., his small U.S. Open golf championship banner was covered with signatures, including that of local favorite Michael Putnam.

“You gotta have long arms,” Dooley said of the challenges of scoring autographs.

He should know.

Dooley’s traveled the country to seek the signatures of golfers. He’s been to Pebble Beach. He’s been to the Masters. He’s been to the Ryder Cup.

He’s scored the autographs of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin, among others.

Dooley isn’t a snob, though. He’ll take ink from anyone inside the ropes.

“If you’re on the PGA Tour, you’re a good golfer,” he said. “I’m not going to shun you.”

Dooley’s wife, Mary, said some of the players shun the autograph seekers, though.

“Some of the guys are just as nice as they can be,” Mary Dooley said. “Some are rude and just walk on by.”

Dozens of other people joined the Dooleys on Monday.

They called out greetings as golfers passed.

“Best of luck this weekend.” “Good morning, Mr. Fujita.” “Michael, how you doing?”

Barret Hamm of Issaquah was watching Robert Streb during practice rounds but said he wasn’t following any particular golfer. His haul showed it.

Hamm was lugging around a board full of autographs. He got about 30 before 10 a.m., he said.

Kristen Allard had about as many by 9 a.m.

Allard explained her strategy.

“Just be polite. This is their workspace, so you don’t try to push it in their faces,” said Allard, who lives in Everett and works as an assistant pro at the Seattle Golf Club.

Those tactics appeared to work with Hiroyuki Fujita and Putnam, both of whom stopped to sign, as did a number of other golfers.

Dooley said hunting autographs allows him to satisfy his golf jones without lugging clubs around the course.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “With my disability, I can no longer play. But I get a lot of satisfaction out of this.”

Staff writer Kari Plog contributed to this report.

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