I know how hard it is at times to find suitable candidates for the letters to the editor section, but running a letter Nov. 16 from Spencer Howell of Silver Spring showed desperation and calls for a response.

Mr. Howell, 72, in the course of supporting cuts in Social Security benefits, also decries the offering of discounts to senior citizens. He admits that he could refuse to accept the discounts at stores and public golf courses, but then proceeds to self-destruct with the confession: "Well, I do, except on the golf course, because the game owes me something after all the dough I've poured into it."

I have never in my 67 years on the links heard anyone say that the game owes him something. On the contrary, while I am among the legions threatening to quit on a daily basis, I and other devoted golfers feel we owe the game for giving us a multitude of benefits, not the least being a pastime marked by courtesy and civility to fellow human beings -- traits that have all but disappeared from some segments of our society in recent years.

If Mr. Howell wants to continue taking his senior citizen discount on public courses (which are subsidized by taxpayers) so be it, but if he ever feels a pang of guilt because of his affluence, he might consider joining a private club, which traditionally won't offer discounts. That's what I did. GROVER HEIMAN Fairfax