Wow, more responses than I expected. This has left me with a question though. What is a provisional ball?
also- I'll be uploading my newest "too much time in the office" marked balls shortly LOL. The alignment line doesn't sound like a bad idea.
feel free to tell any "I found this crazy ball one time stories"
If you hit a ball that might be either lost or out of bounds you are allowed, in the interest of saving time, to play another shot from the same place after announcing that you are playing a provisional (if you do not announce that you are playing a provisional then the original ball is deemed to have been abandoned and the new ball is the ball in play under penalty of troke and distance - even if you find the first ball - I am anal about this, I even say provisional when I am playing by myself, lol)). If the provisional is short of the place you expect your original shot to be you can continue playing it until you get to the area where your original ball is expected to be. If your original ball is found in bounds you abandon the provisional and continue to play the original ball with no penalty. If your original ball is OB or not found, then you continue to play the provisional under penalty of stroke and distance from the point at which you first hit it.
The reason you should mark your provisional differently from the original ball is to cover the case where you hit the provisional in the same area as the original ball. Say you hit your tee shot to the left, where there is OB. So you hit a provisional and also hit it left. When you get up to where the balls are, one is OB and one is in bounds. If they are not marked differently you have no way of knowing which was the original ball and which was the provisional. And that makes a big difference. In a case where you cannot tell which is which you must presume that the in bounds ball is the provisional and therefore would be lying 3, whereas if you had marked the balls differently and the in bounds ball was the original ball you would only be lying one. (Decision 27/11 Solution 2)
Hope this helps.