Rules of Golf

Obituary – John Paramor

The R&A
17 Feb 23
3 mins

John Paramor, one of the most celebrated and respected rules officials in professional golf worldwide, has died at the age of 67.

A much-loved administrator, well-known by the world’s leading players, Paramor had a significant impact on the sport in an illustrious career spanning over 40 years as a senior official with the DP World Tour (formerly European Tour).  He also played his part with The R&A in the evolution of the Rules of Golf and the way they are taught to golfers across the globe, as well as assisting the refereeing team at The Open on an annual basis.  Having retired from his role as Chief Referee with the Tour towards the end of 2020 – at the same time as his long-term colleague Andy McFee – he has sadly passed away after battling a long illness. As well as a dedication to his profession, Paramor had a wonderful zest for life and an infectious enthusiasm that rubbed off on those around him. Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said, “Golf has lost one of its most prominent figures in the world of refereeing. Known fondly by players and officials alike, John has left a rich legacy on the sport. “He was a highly respected individual and carried out his work to impeccable standard yet also with great understanding when administering the Rules of Golf. He was also a wonderful character to be around, on and off the golf course, and everyone at The R&A is saddened at his passing.” The Ascot, Berkshire resident began his golfing career as a player but moved away from the thought of competing for a living and pursued his passion for the rules of the sport. His services to golf began in April 1976 when he joined the then PGA European Tour. Roles as Tournament Official, Tournament Director and Director of Tour Operations followed, before he became Chief Referee in 1997. His international reputation for applying the Rules fairly, yet compassionately, became his trademark. Over and above his European Tour duties, he worked at The Open and the other men’s major championships annually – refereeing at over 100 majors in total – and at World Golf Championship events. He refereed at every Open from 1991 at Royal Birkdale to 2019 at Royal Portrush and was also the Chief Referee for the men’s event on golf’s return to the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. 
John Paramor was presented with the Michael Williams Trophy for Outstanding Services to Golf award at The 147th Open in Carnoustie.
During his time on the fairways at some of the world’s biggest championships, Paramor had many interactions with the greats of the game such as Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods as well as with the latest generation of players. Paramor, for instance, was on hand in the final round of The Open in 2017 when eventual champion Jordan Spieth famously dropped his ball onto and then played from the practice ground at Royal Birkdale. In addition to his work on the fairways, he acted as an adviser to The R&A’s Rules of Golf Committee from 1998, helping form the written Rules and their application, particularly on the professional circuits. Paramor was also very supportive of the development of The R&A’s refereeing schools – now known as the Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar (TARS) – and undertook presentations to highlight life as a referee on Tour and was part of the team that took attendees through practical situations. Paramor administered the sport with the highest level of skill, character and integrity. Typically modest about his many achievements over the years – including winning awards to recognise his services – he was often keen to highlight the opportunities that were afforded to him. “I’ve loved my life in golf,” he once said. “I’ve been very lucky to work with some fantastic people, some absolutely brilliant players and I owe them for the chance that it’s given me to try and help them. I’m also lucky to have worked with some great administrators in the game.” Paramor also enjoyed playing and was a member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, competing in medals when he could. David Rickman, The R&A’s Chief Referee at The Open and the AIG Women’s Open, said, “I’ve known John since the early 1990s and he will be sadly missed by the golf world. “John built a reputation for being honest and fair to players but also empathetic. He had vast experience and was a great sounding board to the rules team at The R&A. “The Open was hugely important to him and he was thrilled to be involved. To have John fully invested and supportive was of great benefit to The R&A. He was very content to be a behind-the-scenes adviser, if you like, to assist the Championship – and the Championship was all the better for it. “John had a presence about him, a gravitas. I remember many times sitting on a buggy at a championship with him and people would come up and ask for his autograph. He was like a celebrity but he was always modest, kind and considerate.”