Hitting up on a driver off of a tee is a good idea.
Can you hit up on a nine iron from a thin lie? If you do are your hands in front of the ball at impact?
It seems to me that if you do hit up on a nine iron from a thin lie you have very little room for error. Just a little behind the ball and splat the ball goes nowhere and just a little high and you will hit a major skull shot.
You say that the longest amateur players in your area hit up on the ball. Do these ams hit up on short iron shots? I have never seen anybody who could play at all hit up on a typical short iron shot. Always ball and then divot with the hands in front at impact. To tell you the truth I don't think that it is possible for a normal person to hit up on a fairway short iron shot with any consistency.