I was surprised and saddened to hear of the passing of Former European Tour referee John Paramor. Paramor was a good golfer and a former Surrey amateur champion, however it was as a referee that he made his mark. He was regularly seen adjudicating on rulings involving some of the game’s biggest names, including Tiger Woods and Seve Ballesteros. In 1989 he became the European Tour’s chief referee. One of his most famous decisions went against the legendary Spaniard at the 1994 Volvo Masters, where Ballesteros was seeking a free drop from a difficult lie that he claimed had been caused by a “burrowing animal”. He retired from the world of refereeing in 2020.
All at Ryder Cup are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Paramor. pic.twitter.com/HKPQgsPp2i
— Ryder Cup (@rydercup) February 17, 2023
Many professionals and journalists have been commenting about John Paramor’s passing, and words such as “highly respected” and “popular” appear frequently, along with the term “legend”.
Keith Pelley, chief executive of the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) stated, “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.”
Steve Carroll, of the National Club Golfer, got to know Paramor and ended up making some rules videos with him. Looking back to the earlier days, Carroll said “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.”
The definitions! That reminded me of a rules night I attended about a year ago, when one of the Rules Officials began by stressing the importance of learning the definitions. I blogged about this, looking at the difference between movable obstructions and loose impediments, and when I looked back, I realised that the late John Paramor was in the video I shared, so I’m going to use it again! Apologies for repeating part of the blog, but it’s good to see the “rules guru” in action.
Here it is –
What’s the difference between a movable obstruction and a loose impediment? You need to know because if you move it and it causes your ball to move, one of these will cost your a penalty shot but the other won’t!
A loose impediment is “any unattached natural object such as:
Stones, loose grass, leaves, branches and sticks,
Dead animals and animal waste,
Worms, insects and similar animals that can be removed easily, and the mounds or webs they build (such as worm casts and ant hills), and
Clumps of compacted soil (including aeration plugs).” (full definition at the end of this blog)
You can move a loose impediment but if this causes your ball to move you must replace your ball and add one penalty shot.
A movable obstruction is “an obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.” It could be a drinks bottle, umbrella – basically anything that isn’t natural. If moving a loose impediment causes your ball to move you should place your ball on the ground as close to its original position as possible, however there is no penalty in this case. It’s advisable to mark the position of the ball before you start moving obstructions.
Here’s a short video of the late John Paramor explaining what you can move and what you shouldn’t!
For clarification – the whole definition of a loose impediment is:
Any unattached natural object such as:
- Stones, loose grass, leaves, branches and sticks,
- Dead and waste,
- Worms, insects and similar that can be removed easily, and the mounds or webs they build (such as worm casts and ant hills), and
- Clumps of compacted soil (including aeration plugs).
Such natural objects are not loose if they are:
- Attached or growing,
- Solidly embedded in the ground (that is, cannot be picked out easily), or
- Sticking to the ball.
- Sand and Loose Soil are not loose impediments.
- Dew, Frost and Water are not loose impediments.
- Snow and Natural Ice (other than frost) are either loose impediments or, when on the ground, , at the player’s option.
- Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.