I learned to play golf years ago. Despite the fact my friends and caddied at nice country clubs, our clubs
went against tradition and didn't allow caddies play on Mondays. So, most of us learned to play on public courses. The public fairways were not trimmed as close as the CC fairways, to save $$ on maintenance, and because the turf wasn't fine grained. As someone mentioned, the most reliable shot was a sweep shot.
Anyway, when I joined the military, I got to play on well manicured DoD courses. It took me six months to learn how to hit irons off of a close-cut fairway. I had to hit down on the ball more, and could without hurting my hands. Usually got a nice high shot, or a thin shot that went tooooo far.
Even today, I see some of this when hitting FWs. People fortunate enough to play Florida courses in the spring say it's difficult to hit FWs because the lie is so tight. Last year when I had RBZ FWs, I could hit them well off a tee or the first cut of rough (cushioning under the ball). But, I had trouble getting the ball up off the fairway (and trouble with hooks not related to lie).
This year I switched to TE Exotics XRail version - a GI fairway wood - and had much better results off of tight lies. I use a 4W and 7W. (I hit down slightly on FWs now, rather than sweeping them).
Possibly GI or SGI irons might give average golfers better results because the heads have higher bounce.