Originally Posted by Fourputt
Actually the right thing to do when you hit that errant shot is to play a provisional ball. That way you can play by the rules and keep pace. I play by the rules nearly 100% of the time, yet I'm also one of the faster players I know. The two are not mutually exclusive.
I rarely spend the full 5 minutes allowed on a search even in a competition, and never in casual play. I think that only time I've ever spent 5 minutes looking for a ball is when we had that long to wait on the group or groups in front of us.
Oops. Looks like I misspoke on the correct rules. The options for the lost ball scenario (excluding out-of-bounds or water hazard situations) are to take a provisional (as you state) or to walk back to the tee and and replay from there + 1-stroke penalty (stroke and distance). Apparently there is no option for dropping at all (if I read the rules correctly).
A couple of observations:
1) The assumption with the provisional ball use case is that you are pretty sure your ball is lost so you eat the penalty and go for your 3rd shot at the tee (unless you recover the original in which case you just play that and pick up the provisional with no penalty and extra shot). However, often times you really don't know until you get down to the landing area that your ball is lost. Depending on the thick of the rough or even having poor long distance vision, many balls might not be easily recoverable. So I guess you can take lots of provisionals, but then that could slow pace down as well (by hitting extra shots and fetching the extra balls all over the place ..).
2) I have never seen anyone return to the tee to re-do a shot. This is a completely unrealistic scenario that does not work on a real golf course. The courses are busy and often backed up. No way are you going to see this. This is where the conflict comes in to play between real world golf circumstances and "pure" scoring.
3) I believe the rule is flawed regardless as you should be able to 'drop' at the most likely landing area. One stroke penalty should suffice. Don't see why this should be treated much differently than water hazard penalty (1-stoke and behind the hazard)?