The irons are made of soft 431 stainless steel and feature progressive offset (4.7mm in the 4-iron to 1.0mm in the wedges). The loft gap is 5-degrees from the 4-iron to 6-iron, then 4-degrees from the 7-iron through the wedges. Clubheads are midsized cavitybacks with wide, cambered soles.
Downey says, "The System RLS Irons offer the greatest combination of feel and stability that I have ever hit." He's the owner of the company - what else is he going to say? But he also says this: "They feel like forged blades, but play like the most forgiving of cavitybacks."
That's a statement that many golfers are likely to agree with after hitting them. The soft stainless steel provides workability to better golfers, and the midsize of the clubhead won't scare off low-handicappers. The soft stainless steel also allows better golfers to easily tinker with loft and lie.
But the perimeter weighting, wide sole, offset, low center of gravity and high MOI all are excellent for mid- and high-handicappers. For all golfers, really, but particularly players who need more forgiveness.
We haven't played a full set of RLS Irons, but the individual club we've been hitting certainly lived up to the hype. All those who hit it with us came away impressed in what was, for most of them, their first exposure to Innovex clubs.
The Innovex System RLS Irons and Wedges sell for $57.50 each with graphite shafts or $50 each with steel shafts. They are available in 4-iron through pitching wedge, plus 52-, 56-, 60-, and 64-degree wedges.
System RLS Hybrids
The first thing many golfers are likely to notice about an Innovex RLS Hybrid is how small the head appears at address. The club almost looks snub-nosed. One pro we showed our No. 4 (22 degrees) to remarked, in an exaggeration, "It almost looks like a toy club."
The he took a few swings. "Wow, that's a great club."
A few of the higher-handicappers we showed the club to were a little wary of its small clubhead size (92cc for our No. 4). "Here," I would say, having already seen myself what the club could do, "just hit it." I would drop a few balls in medium rough. Thwack, thwack, thwack. "Wow, that feels great!"
"Wow" and "great" are two words we heard over and over about the RLS Hybrid. Nos. 3 (18 degrees), 4 (22 degrees) and 5 (27 degrees) are available. The crown, sole and face are all 15-5 stainless steel, and all have a square face angle.
Downey says the RLS Hybrids are what really put Innovex on the map ("It got 2nd place overall, out of 24, in Rankmark's testing in 2005"), and he says the small head is that size for a good reason.
"The reason it performs so well is because the size of the head is small enough to get through any rough with ease," Downey said, "but large enough that it is easy to hit. In addition, it has a very low center of gravity, and therefore, a very high, soft ball flight that can hold almost any green."
The Innovex System RLS Hybrids sell for $87.50 each with graphite shaft or $75 each with steel shaft.
System RLS Fairway Woods
The RLS Fairway Woods feature a cup-face design utilizing Carpenter 455 Steel in an ultra-thin face. The cup-face design helps to widen the sweet spot while the ultra-thin face ratchets up the COR.
The semi-pear shape will be appreciated by traditionalists, but the performance will be appreciated by all. We knocked around a 3-wood (15 degrees), and also available are: 4-wood (17 degrees), 5-wood (19 degrees) and 7-wood (23 degrees).
The head of the RLS Fairway Wood also appears a little smaller than comparable models at address; our 3-wood has a volume of 160cc. But with the face already ultra-thin, Downey explained, the head could not have been made much larger.
Besides, a fairway wood has to be able to get the ball up in the air. Behemoth models struggle to do that; a more compact model with a clubface of optimal height will have a lower center of gravity that helps get the ball up quickly.
The compact design also produces a great, solid feel at impact, or as Downey puts it. The RLS Fairway wood proved very easy to hit with good distance and dispersion. It got a unanimous thumbs-up from everyone who played ours.
The Innovex System RLS Fairway Woods sell for $150 each in graphite or $125 each with steel shaft. (UPDATE: These prices have since risen due to the rising costs of the 455 carpenter steel used in construction.)
More from Innovex
What's next for Innovex? The company's first driver, the CfD, is due in September, 2005. The CfD will also use cup-face technology, but with SP700 titanium. It will feature the maximum allowed clubhead volume and COR. Available lofts will be 10, 12, 14 and 16 degrees.
"Expect this driver to be very hot, easy to hit, with a very solid feel," Downey said.
Hmmm, sounds just like the rest of Innovex's clubs.
For more info on Innovex Golf, visit the company's website at www.innovexgolf.com.