John Paramor: 1955-2023

This article originally appeared on the DP World Tour’s website.

The European Tour group is today deeply saddened by the passing of John Paramor, one of the most respected rules officials in the history of golf and a hugely popular figure across the entire Tour family. He was 67.

John’s remarkable career spanned six different decades, during which time he became one of the most recognisable figures in the game.

He joined the Tour as an administrator in April 1976, having previously spent a year working as a caddie for fellow Englishman Peter Butler. At the time, he was the Tour’s sixth employee at its original base at The Oval, in Surrey.

A competent golfer in his own right, John was a former Surrey Amateur Champion, but his natural interest in golf’s rules book led him to specialise as a referee and the sight of him on the fairways soon become commonplace at European Tour events and Major Championships around the world throughout his storied career.

He went on to become the European Tour’s Chief Referee in 1989 and through his work with the R&A and USGA, he was central to many of the significant changes made to the Rules of Golf over the years, as well as the Tour’s own policies, including its updated approach to Pace of Play in 2016.

In 2018, he shared some of his own favourite memories and anecdotes when he sat down with Andrew Cotter for the Life on Tour Podcast.

It included perhaps his most famous ruling with the legendary Seve Ballesteros on the final day of the 1994 season at the Volvo Masters, which became known as ‘the burrowing animal’ ruling.

Two years later he joined his long-time friend and colleague, the Tour’s former Senior Referee Andy McFee for a special reflective video before they called time on their respective Tour careers at the 2020 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, although John would go on to officiate at a handful of events on the DP World Tour in 2021 before his illness took hold.

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, led the tributes, saying: “I said in 2020 that ‘legend’ is a word used too often in sport but in terms of golf, and the administration of the rules of our sport, it perfectly describes John Paramor. Quite simply, he was a leader in his field, the guru of referees, and someone who commanded the absolute respect of the players and of his peers.

“When I arrived at the Tour in 2015, I had the privilege of working closely with JP who took time to walk me through the intricacies of all the rules and regulations of golf – I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for that.

“He was a big character in all senses – his physical stature, his stature in the game and his popularity with anyone who shared a dinner or a social occasion with him. He had a strong personality but had passion for his job and the Tour as a whole which shone through whenever you spoke with him.

“John was, and will always be, a cherished part of our Tour family and will be dearly missed by all of us. On behalf of everyone at the European Tour group, our thoughts and deepest condolences are with John’s family and his many friends across the world on this very sad day.”

David Garland, the European Tour group’s Director of Tour Operations, said: “JP hired me 35 years ago – what he saw in me I have no idea, but I was so glad that he did. He was my boss, my mentor and a dear friend, as he was to so many people. Quite simply, JP was the Tour.

“So much of what we do operationally on Tour today is down to JP, and our relationships with other golfing organisations and governing bodies are down to him as he forged the path for us all. He was hugely respected the world over by players, caddies, officials and officialdom – they may not have always agreed with him, but the respect was always there.

“JP was also the most fantastic company off the golf course and there is no question that golf has lost one of its finest – a legend and a great friend who enriched all our lives.”

Andy McFee said: “What a man JP was and what a life he led. He has left us now but he left us when he was full of all his favourite things after a John-style lunch yesterday – garlic snails, rare fillet steak and fine red wine. He leaves us with memories galore and we will have to somehow find a way to manage without him.

“JP was the architect of all the policies that still govern all play on the DP World Tour today and was a huge influence worldwide. He was the finest, fairest referee in the world whose word all players respected absolutely. He mentored all referees on all Tours and gave them support, confidence and made them better. He was simply the best.

“He was such a kind, knowledgeable man who was always available to help you and was the most loyal person I’ve ever met. He was my best friend and it was my privilege to travel the world with him on our Tour business. What a man he was and what a life he led. We will never see his like again.”

John’s passing will be marked with a minute’s silence during the third round of tomorrow’s DP World Tour Thailand Classic at Amata Springs Country Club in Bangkok and during the third round of the SDC Open on the Challenge Tour at the Zebula Golf Estate and Spa in Limpopo.

John Paramor, who was born on April 4, 1955 and who passed away on February 17, 2023, is survived by his wife Katie, his children Clare, Alex and Tom and his five grandchildren; Bertie, Summer, Nellie, Arthur and Emma.