Just playing at my local club competition, I duffed my drive, it went about 10 yards (embarrassing) - got out my 3 wood and smacked the hell out of it to make up for lost yards - it was a cloudy day and I knew I hit it true and up the guts but lost sight of it. I get up to my group and they reckon it faded and was probably in the pond - I was adamant it couldn't be in the wet but after 2 minutes searching in the area near the lateral hazard I was basically pressured to declare it lost although I did not officially say anything I merely turned back and headed for the tee to take my third (and what would have been my 5th) shot. As I got back I let the next group tee off as I didn't want to hold up play, just as as I was getting up for a shot my group waved at me as they had found my ball. I dutifully headed up to my original ball and kept playing.
I get to the clubhouse and all the talk was about this action (to my surprise) - apparently by walking back to the tee I had declared my original ball lost. I personally think this is a load of B/S as I'm pretty sure nowhere does it state in the rules of golf that simply walking to my original shot is declaring the ball lost. My group kept searching as I was walking back, I did not take any other stroke and my group found my original ball. My understanding is that I must play my original ball?
Anyway this is part vent and part seeking clarification...
Was that ball lost or was I right to play my original ball?