[This post was updated on November 28, 2011.]
On one side of Route 110 in Farmingdale, small planes soar into the sky from the runways of Republic Airport. Directly across the road, hundreds of golf balls do the same from the stalls of the Skydrive Golf Center.
With 72 heated stalls for casual tune-ups, intense practice sessions or individual lessons, Skydrive is a centrally located spot for swing work that Long Island Press readers voted as the #1 driving range in 2009 and 2010. The facility also offers junior clinics and summer camps for young players.
Skydrive's appeal to the restless golfer is in its functionality. Players who simply want to tee up, swing and repeat will have few complaints. Buckets range from $6 (45 balls) to $13 (135 balls), with early-bird specials and other discounts available for frequent visitors. Empty stalls are typically easy to come by.
There are no bells and whistles at Skydrive -- no pop-up tees like at Heartland Golf Park, no enclosed stalls or practice bunker like at Spring Rock. As a whole, the facility shows a good deal of wear and tear, from the parking lot to the turf field. The second-floor ball machine is out of service. And issues with the perimeter netting seem to occur more frequently than at other ranges.
Luckily, Skydrive is surrounded by almost every conceivable form of light suburban entertainment, so while the facility itself might not have the amenities to keep you and your friends or kids on site for more than a few buckets, you can at least make the range part of a full afternoon or evening. A movie theater beyond the far end of the range might as well have a flag on its roof. Sprawling Airport Plaza and a half-dozen chain grills and fast-food stops are less than a mile away. Even Adventureland is within a five-minute drive. If billiards is right next to golf on your list of hobbies, stop into the showroom for Thomas Grimaldi Pool Tables, which opened right next to Skydrive's front counter in the fall of 2011. (Previously, the space served as a tasting room for Osprey's Dominion Vineyards of Peconic.) Or skip the showroom and hit up happy hour across the street at the 56th Fighter Group.