Most of the people coming to work at Congressional Country Club take the bus. Most of the people coming to play golf drive.

Nick is one of those who takes the bus. A 26-year-old caddie, he boards a T2 bus every day at about 8:15 a.m. near 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. He pays his $1 fare and walks to the back of the bus for the 45-minute ride.

Eventually, the bus is full of women, many of whom are riding to their cleaning jobs in the suburbs.

Nick has brought two cups of coffee and two doughnuts and shares with some of the other regular riders. They exchange stories along the way to pass time.

By the time Nick arrives at the country club in Bethesda, most of the women are gone, as is the steamy heat of the city.

It is almost cool as he takes his place outside the starters house. Seven other caddies are sitting on the green chairs, waiting for the caddie master to assign them. The wait is an accepted part of the job.

"Usually you have to sit and wait awhile," Nick says. "Ladies usually play early in the morning, and they take carts. But if I'm lucky, I go out right away."

He's not lucky this morning44. Women golfers are cruising around the area in golf carts, or strolling near the club, about 200 yards away.

The clubhouse is a magnificent white building, surrounded by rolling hills, swimming pools and tennis courts. The driveways are lined with flowers. The pathways are ringed with carefully trimmed hedges.

The waiting caddies have time to chat. "I do it because I enjoy the game of golf, and I like dealing with the people," Nick said.

"When you start, you know that some of them are halfway wealthy people, and you're not. But that's understood before you go out there," he added.

In his second year as a caddie at Congressional, Nick has no complaints about his customers. "Some give you negative vibes but, on the other hand, some give you very positive vibes. You can't say they all treat you bad."

John Bradley, a 20-year veteran caddie at 32, agreed. "I don't have any problems. I always look at it this way - they don't have any more going for them than I have going for me.

"That they're people that have means doesn't bother me, because I have means myself. People here have good attitudes. We don't let things happen like that. That's one of the finer points of being here as opposed to some of the other clubs."

Bradley says there are many reasons he likes caddying, including the fact that "I'm not confined, not closed in by four walls."

He has two residences and either drives to work or takes the bus. He is very serious about his work.

"In 20 years, I've seen it all," he says. "I've seen a lot of changes. Some of them were for the good: Some of them were not so good. Most of them were for the best. But the game remains the same.

"Overall, the members treat you pretty good. Those who belong to this club have made it. They don't have to worry about money and a lot of things. They treat you pretty equally. In other clubs they might be worried about status and things, but not here."

If there is one thing that bothers him, it is that golfers often take caddies too lightly.

"They don't think that a caddy is as important to the game as he really is," Bradley says.

"A caddy is to a golfer what a nurse is to a doctor. Some people are just guys who carry your bags, and then there are caddies. It's taken me 12-13 years to find out all that's involved. And I can give that to golfers."

Neither Bradley nor Nick feels threatened by golf carts.

"At Congressional, quite a few (golfers) use caddies," Nick says. "They realize that walking is good exercise."

Bradley adds, "The game was designed to be walked. And a machine can never take the place of a caddy. There's a lot more involved than just carrying clubs. A cart can't tell you how to set up a shot or clean your clubs. You just can't do it without a caddy."

Some of the caddies waiting fit into the bag-carrier class, rather than the full-fledged caddy class. They are young boys, members of the club, making extra money over the summer. Most have only been at it a year, and still have much to learn.

"Some of the older caddies don't appreciate the kids being around and taking the good jobs. For them, this is their regular job, and they get upset if kids get all the good loops (money) received for caddying 18 holes," Nick says.

"For them, it's strictly business," Bradley laughs. "And they only take out women golfers if there is no alternative."

Finally, a few men arrive and one by one, the caddies start to work.

When they're finished, most of the golfers will get into their cars and head for home and most of the caddies will reboard the bus to return to the city's steamy heat.