OK, we've established the correct way to play a ball when it was close to the woods or trouble, and very likely went OB.
Now, the situation that I've been involved in a bunch of times - say you hit a PERFECT drive - right down the pipe. 100% chance that it's on the fairway. You spend 5 minutes & can't find it. Could have plugged, could be under a divot or leaf, could be who knows where. Due to the certainty that it was a good shot & you'd find it if you had the course to yourself & could spend an hour looking for it ... what would a properly schooled golfer do in this situation (lets assume we're playing for hcp or in a tournament) ??
This happened to me in a qualifier earlier this year. Severe downhill sloping par 5, slightly downwind. I hit maybe the best drive of my life, center of a fairway that turns left at about the 340 mark and going through would run into a hazard at about the 360 mark. I never found the ball so I don't know how far I hit it. I was so pissed that after searching for 3-4 minutes in every part of the fairway and both sides of rough, and the hazard, that I simply DQ'd myself from the tournament. I should have had an eagle look (or so I thought), and instead I would have had to re-tee or assume it went into the hazard (like 360 yards out), but since I didn't know for sure, I ruled out that option.