The owner of the Turf Valley Country Club in Howard County apologized yesterday to "all who may have been offended or affected" by racial slurs used by his club manager, who had complained repeatedly in a recorded conversation about "niggers" questioning the club's hiring practices.

But Nicholas B. Mangione Sr. stopped short of firing the manager, his nephew, Frederick B. Grimmell, who he said had been under heavy emotional stress because of the recent death of his father. The club's attorney had said Thursday night that Grimmell "had lost his position," but said yesterday Mangione made the final decision.

At a news conference at the country club, Mangione said he had suspended Grimmell with pay for an indefinite period while he conducts an investigation.

"Without affirming or denying the happening of the incident, since I was not present and I have not had ample time to fully investigate, I would at this time, however, offer my apology and even seek the forgiveness of all who may have been offended or affected by the incident," Mangione said.

Mangione's apology failed to still the outcry over Grimmell's remarks recorded Feb. 23 on the telephone answering machine of Sherman Howell, a black civic leader in Columbia, although it brought a plea for conciliation from a black County Council member.

Howell had called Grimmell to ask about the club's minority hiring practices.

On the tape, Grimmell, apparently thinking the connection had been broken, is heard saying, "This nigger, I am going to put him against the wall," followed by the words, "Sherman nigger" and "Yo nigger."

Charles Ware, Howell's attorney, said Mangione's statement at yesterday's news conference "sounds like a cover-up to me. He has not come close to satisfying me or Mr. Howell. His response is greatly deficient." Ware said Howell wants "to see fundamental changes in the attitude of the Mangione organization toward blacks. We want a more sensitive Turf Valley organization."

Bowyer Freeman, representing the Maryland NAACP, said Mangione's statement was "weak at best. I didn't find the proposed remedy appropriate." The Howard County NAACP branch has moved its Freedom Fund banquet from the club because of Grimmell's remarks.

Julie Koerth, president of the 625-member Howard County Chamber of Commerce, said Mangione's response was not strong enough. "It's a hard call to make . . . but I had hoped at the minimum for suspension without pay."

The chamber is considering moving its March 17 educators luncheon and March 18 St. Patrick's dance from Turf Valley if alternate sites can be found, Koerth said.

A group of 25 black ministers in Howard County has called for a one-year boycott of Turf Valley by blacks, while two fraternal organizations announced yesterday that they have removed scheduled events from the club.

The Columbia chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, of which Howell is a member, said it has withdrawn its April 23 dance from the country club as well as a Jan. 15, 1989, scholarship fund-raiser. "We find the remarks of Fred Grimmell reprehensible and repugnant and a stinging indictment of Turf Valley management's true feelings about black people," said David Barrett, the fraternity's president.

Marion Payne, president of the Columbia Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, said the 120-member group would move its April 2 luncheon and Nov. 5 Red and White Ball to another location.

County Council member C. Vernon Gray, who said he talked twice yesterday with Mangione, called for conciliation and negiotation. He said the black community needs to focus on increased minority hiring at the country club.

"We need to move beyond anger, shock and disbelief and move toward definitive, concrete action," Gray said. "We don't want to forget the reason for {Howell's} phone call. It was about hiring."

Gray said Mangione was "deeply troubled, concerned, and deeply pained" by the incident. "He let me know he did not in any way share those sentiments" expressed by Grimmell.

Calls for economic boycott may be premature, Gray said, adding that he has offered to act as a go-between to set up a meeting between the NAACP, Howell and Mangione to discuss affirmative action goals at the club.

Yesterday, Regina Ford, the club's marketing director, said Mangione was willing to meet with black leaders during the week of March 15.

At the news conference, Mangione, who returned from Florida to address the issue, said Grimmell had told him he had made a "stupid statement." But Mangione, recalling his own hard times as the son of an Italian immigrant, said his company was a family operation and he did not want to fire his nephew.

"I would rather make a public apology and give the boy another chance," he said. Mangione said he would decide soon whether to take additional disciplinary action against Grimmell, 39, who did not attend the news conference.

Asked whether he was personally offended by Grimmell's racial slurs, Mangione said, "I've been called a wop. I been called a greaser many times. I took it with a grain of salt."

Mangione defended his minority hiring record, saying about 25 percent of his employees at all his various enterprises are black. "I have always maintained an open-door policy," he said. "If it becomes necessary, I can produce many present and past minority employees and friends, who, I am sure, will confirm my statements."