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Rules of Golf

Generous, kind, and so highly respected: Remembering John Paramor

Former European Tour referee John Paramor has died at the age of 67. We pay tribute to the legendary rules official
 

There are the seven wonders of the world and then there was John Paramor’s car boot. For a budding referee, it was like opening the Ark of the Covenant – the apparently mundane treasures inside metaphorically glimmering at me.

We’d engaged the legendary European Tour chief referee shortly after his retirement to work with us on a series of Rules of Golf videos.

And for every conceivable rules situation that could happen on a golf course, John appeared to have a prop for it: paint guns to draw out penalty area and out of bounds lines, all manner of stakes, a collection of odd-looking stones, even a coke can and a plastic shopping bag, for loose impediments and obstructions. He was incredibly well-prepared.

He needed to be as well.

We had the clipboards and the running orders but, if we’re honest, we had no idea what we were really doing when we turned up early that morning at Sunningdale Heath.

John ever-so-gently took charge. His straight-talking, calm, authoritative presence that delivered thousands of rulings under the pressure of a global audience of millions during a four-decade career on the European stage resulted in a collection of videos of which we remain incredibly proud.

‘Had we thought about this angle? What about talking about this part of the rule? Let’s make sure we cover this.’

rules of golf

That professionalism, the attention to detail, that marked so much of his life on Tour – and allowed him to speak with such authority to golf’s greats – always shone through.

It was so much fun. By the third video, he was playing the Hardy to my Laurel. “What is it now, Steve?” he’d bark in mock exasperation as we’d set up yet another fine mess I’d gotten myself into on the course.

I was the butt of the joke, and I loved it. But John was also a mentor – probably an unknowing one – to me. I interviewed him several times, invited him onto our podcast and bumped into him at various gatherings. Our conversations became less and less about his reminiscences and more and more about me trying to prise the secrets of the Rules of Golf from him.

Once, sitting next to him at dinner after a round at Swinley Forest, he humoured me for what seemed like an hour – delaying tucking into the quite incredible lunch at the Berkshire venue – as I talked at him at 100mph on any subject I could think of. I hope his roast beef didn’t go too cold.

In truth, the answers didn’t take any leveraging. John was a generous and willing guide as I tried to navigate my way through the laws of the game.

It was a daunting prospect for me, going from zero rules knowledge to the Level 2 and then Level 3 exams. He made me feel like I could succeed.  

Start with the definitions, he’d say. If you don’t understand them, you’ve got no chance. Read them. Question them. Why is that there? When you’ve found the answer, it starts to become a lot easier.

As I initially fumbled around that 200-page book, it was the key to the door. I couldn’t have gone through it without his help.

I will miss his knowledge. I will miss his humour. I will miss his kindness. Golf will miss a great man.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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