Pros separate themselves from single digits, from high handicappers mostly because of how well they hit the ball, not because of their short games. LSW example is always a good one, would you rather bet a pro in a putting contest or a closest to the pin/GIR competition. Obviously a putting contest because you'd actually have a chance, even a bogey golfer.
The driver is an extremely important club for shooting lower scores.
All he is doing is saying that the closer you get to the end of a hole, the more important the shot becomes because you can't "recover" from it if you fail. That's stupid.
Everything that comes before it matters a great great deal.
I remember your earlier posts about this issue and moved the 3.5 bag around attempting to re-enact your issue -- do you have a very wide back? That's the only way I could see the plastic handle being an issue - I could not replicate your issue, but the only way I see it occurring is with someone with a very wide back where the hard plastic would hit the edge of the back. Either that, or you did not balance the bag correctly, or a combo of the two.
As to the SM 2.5. Black/Red are now available. It is lite, and weighs as advertised, maybe a couple of ounces heavier. On your back, the water bottle and accessories pocket for balls, rangefinder, tees, gloves, is readily available. On the other side is the valuable pocket and bag-length zippered pocket for clothing. Fits 14 clubs better than the Front 9.
I would say that you can improve a ton just using a simulator IF you're biggest problem is your swing. I haven't played actual golf in a couple of years but I've taken a few lessons and practiced a lot, usually videotaping myself, in my garage with just a mat and a net. I did manage a few range sessions here and there but 80% of my time has been spent just hitting into a net.
Last time I played:
I was driving the ball about 180 yards with a big slice (but was improving)
My short irons were ok, long irons a mess
I actually didn't have any fairway woods. I have since bought a 4w.
My biggest misses were fat shots and slices
I shot 97, my best score ever.
Next time I play (hopefully next week):
I'm driving the ball about 250 - no more slice. My short irons are better - I'm getting a much higher and more consistent trajectory. My long irons are ok. I now have a 4w, I hit it about 200 yards. It's a really reliable club for me.
My biggest misses are thin shots and tops . . . .and pulls if I lose concentration and swing without really aiming at anything.
I play easy, fairly short courses. I'm thinking that I'm *capable* of shooting in the mid 80's. We'll see.