Last season or 2, the League decided to limit the search for a lost ball to 3 minutes instead of the USGA’s rule of 5 minutes to help with the pace of play. This year, the USGA got on board! Your 3 minutes begins when you get to the area you think your ball came to rest. After 3 minutes of searching, your ball is declared lost. If you hit a provisional ball (10 stars for you!!), that ball will now be in play. If you did not hit a provisional ball (minus 10 stars), you must return to the spot you last played the ball and rehit.
Contrary to what many of you believe to be ok, you MAY NOT play your ball if somebody finds it AFTER your 3 minutes is up and you are returning to the spot to rehit it or before you have hit your provisional ball.