Tour players make such good contact on iron shots because they stay grounded as they swing down and through the impact zone. There's not a lot of body sway, and they certainly don't rise out of their address posture the way many amateurs do to try to help the ball into the air.
You might have heard the terms "covering the ball" or "staying on top of it." They mean feeling like your chest is pointing at the ball through impact. A great drill to reinforce that feel is to hit shots off a downhill lie. You don't want the slope to be so severe that it throws off your balance, but it should give you the feeling that your front leg is firmly planted on the ground when you swing (above). That's a position you see in all the pros.
To make solid contact, swing down the slope and keep the clubshaft leaning toward the target through impact. If you spend enough time practicing shots from a downslope, all those flat lies will be a breeze.
Where should you play the ball for an iron shot? No matter what club you're using, set up with the ball slightly behind the position of your left pectoral (chest) muscle. This ensures that the low point of the downswing comes in front of the ball's position. You'll make a downward strike and then take a divot.
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