SYDNEY, April 2 (Reuters) - Golf Australia on Thursday reiterated its recommendation that all golf courses in the country should be closed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic after some clubs continued to allow play this week.
Australia has instructed people to stay inside unless shopping for food or taking exercise as it tries to contain the virus, which has infected more than 5,200 and killed 25 in the country.
According to the most recent golf club participation reports, Australians play more than 10 million rounds of golf a year and there was some anger when Golf Australia first recommended that courses be shut down.
There was also confusion, however, as anti-coronavirus measures are being enforced at local level by state governments, some of which interpreted the exercise element of the measures to include golf.
Clubs in the southern state of Victoria, which include the famous sandbelt courses outside Melbourne, have closed but some in New South Wales and around the capital Canberra have allowed play as long as social distancing strictures are observed.
"Many golf clubs around Australia have either re-opened, or are considering doing so, after recent state and territory-specific rulings or directives," Golf Australia said in a statement on Thursday.
"Golf Australia ... remains of the view that golf is a non-essential activity, a view which sits comfortably with the current Federal Government directive and rules to 'stay at home' unless absolutely necessary.
"Our recommendation to remain closed therefore remains the same - Australia and our community come first."
Golf Australia apologised for any confusion around the issue, blaming any mixed messages on "various state positions" that "have been constantly changing, almost on a daily basis".
"That so many people are passionate about the sport is a great sign of the game's significance in our community and we are truly sympathetic to those who are desperate to once again walk the fairways," the statement continued.
"But we as the national governing body feel that in this time of crisis for so many in our community, it is best to be safe." (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)