In the new Rules of Golf from January 1, the time for a ball search (before the ball becomes lost) will be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
2019 Rule: Under Rule 18.2, the time for a ball search (before the ball becomes lost) will be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
Reasons for Change:
Limiting the search period to 3 minutes is more consistent with the underlying principle that golf is to be played in a prompt and continuous way, without long pauses in play.
In most cases, if the ball is going to be found, it will be found within the first 3 minutes.
Although this change may increase the number of lost balls, on average the overall impact should be to speed up play.
Knowing that the search time is limited to 3 minutes should encourage players to play a provisional ball when they believe there is a chance their ball may not be found.