Playing a Provisional Ball
I played a ball from the tee and it disappeared into a bush. I walked forward to search and it could not be quickly found so I walked back to the tee and played a provisional ball. My playing partners then found my 1st ball (within 5 minutes) which I played. Was this the correct procedure?
Answer: - No.
A player must inform his marker or fellow-competitor that he intends to play a provisional ball and it must be played before he or his partner goes forward to search for the ball (Rule 27-2a)
As you failed to play the provisional ball before you walked forward, to search for the ball, the provisional ball became the ball in play (under Rule 27-1 stroke and distance).
You played your 1st ball (the wrong ball) incurring a penalty of 2 strokes (Stroke Play). (Rule 15-3b).
If it was a Matchplay event the penalty is loss of hole (Rule 15-3a)
You should have corrected your mistake and played the correct ball. As you were playing a stoke play competition and failed to correct this mistake before playing a ball from the next teeing ground the penalty is disqualification. (Rule 15-3b)
Remember that if you wish to play a provisional ball you must state that you intend to play a provisional ball and play it before you walk forward to search for your ball