Rick K, you are correct about a provisional ball, the player must “declare” they are playing a provisional ball. Failure to declare it as a provisional automatically puts that second ball into play and the first ball is abandoned.
You do not have to look for a lost ball. You have a maximum of 3 minutes to look for a lost ball, but you can abandon the search at any time including never even beginning a search. Once you declare that you intend to put your provisional ball into play all players should abandon the search.
Rick M, I always say, “If you hit a provisional ball, three people know you hit a bad shot If you have to go back and hit the shot again seven people know you hit a bad shot.” Always hit a provisional ball. This is also why my biggest pet peeve with the USGA over rules is their rule that prohibits you from hitting a provisional if you think your ball is in a penalty area.