‘That’s just fantastic’: Inside the Augusta National clubhouse as Jon Rahm won the Masters

The scene inside the Augusta National clubhouse was much more muted than Jon Rahm's celebration.

Darren Riehl

AUGUSTA, Ga. — A green jacket buys you access to golf’s most exclusive club, the cachet to enter any room with confidence, and a Rolodex filled with titans of industry and heads of state.

It does not, however, buy you a seat on the 18th green at the conclusion of the Masters. On Sunday at Augusta National, that lesson was learned the hard way.

The scene inside the Augusta National clubhouse was a muted one as Jon Rahm charged up the 18th fairway with victory in hand on Sunday afternoon. The elegant, archaic structure bustles with activity during tournament week, but as the Masters came to a close, most of the green jackets could be found somewhere else.

Many of them were along the ropeline on the 18th fairway. A properly timed (and placed) green chair earns you unfettered access to that view come Sunday afternoon. Many more were out on the veranda, where the final preparations were being prepared for the green jacket ceremony.

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But for one unfortunate green jacket-wearer, neither location was enough to secure a vantage point of Rahm as he chased down his second major title. He offered a chuckle with that admission as Rahm closed in on the green.

“My kids have the seats down on the ropes,” he said. “I went out there but I couldn’t see. So I guess I’m stuck here.”

We were on the first floor of an Augusta National clubhouse, a building so old and so historic the floorboards still creak when you walk along them. Upstairs, a small crew of green jackets and their friends were huddled around a small corner television in the stately room that hosts the annual Champions Dinner, passing around cocktails and war stories. Next door, a larger group of members sipped red wine out of big glass goblets in the Grill Room, sitting in fabric lounge chairs in front of a boardroom table as they did it. But here, on the first floor, there were no televisions nor libations. Just a decade-old Lenovo desktop computer, an impressively tech-savvy green jacket, and me.

You could practically count the pixels on the computer screen as Jon Rahm removed his cap to walk up the 18th fairway, but neither of us seemed to care much. In this moment, there was little more to do, and little else we could do, than introduce ourselves and watch the final moments of the 2023 Masters in the Augusta National clubhouse together.

So we stood there watching quietly as Rahm charged his way up the hill. And then again as Brooks Koepka dutifully putted out for par in front of him. Finally, it was time for Rahm to stare down the six-footer that’d win him the tournament, and I could sense the tension building in my new friend.

As he poured in the putt for par, clinching his first career Masters victory, a wondrous smile spread across the green jacket’s face.

“That’s fantastic,” he said. “That’s just fantastic.”

Then, as if he wasn’t sure how else to express his excitement, he began to clap.

He was alone in the clapping for several seconds until someone opened the hulking clubhouse front door, welcoming a tidal wave of noise from the 18th hole celebration into the main room. Soon, Rahm appeared through the front windows, headed towards the scorer’s tent.

A few minutes went by and he emerged again, this time on the back side of the Augusta National clubhouse, near the entrance to Magnolia Lane. Rahm, typically an understated (if sometimes surly) individual, was overjoyed. He hugged his caddie. He hugged his family. He hugged a few people who seemed surprised he hugged them.

Finally, a man in a green jacket and a man in a regular jacket escorted him over to a golf cart, where the two would ride off to the green jacket ceremony. As Rahm zipped west, Brooks Koepka headed east, his face in his hands, looking dejected, as his agent drove him away in a golf cart.

Eventually, Rahm passed the clubhouse, while the remaining green jacket-wearers — in the grill room and the upstairs restaurant with the small corner TV and the Pro Shop and every other building adjacent to the golf course — came out to greet him. There were roughly 25 of them in all to witness both winner and loser ride by, showering Rahm in his first (of several) green jacket standing ovations.

Rahm, for his part, seemed utterly taken back. His smile grew wide as he tried to maintain eye contact with each of his well-wishers, tipping his cap in their direction.

And then he was gone into the horizon, off to Butler Cabin and to try on his green jacket for the very first time. The Masters had once again crowned a worthy champion, and all of those closest to the club were thrilled with how it’d transpired.

As I turned back for home, I crossed paths one more time with my new friend, the green jacket, who shared another friendly smile.

“It was great to see you again, James.”

I could summon only one response.

“Same time next year?”

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.