View the video by Dave Marsh
We have all been in this situation where we find ourselves up against a tree, and think we essentially have no shot. We can of course take an unplayable, instead of wrapping the club around the tree, but there are a couple of other alternatives. One option is to turn the club around and hit the ball from the opposite side, in other words if you are right handed hit the ball left handed. Another option is to hit the ball backwards toward your target.
Now, if you have never tried either one of these techniques, you may want to watch this video by Dave Marsh to learn how to execute these shots, then practice them on the range until you feel sure you won’t duff the shot. I have a third option. I carry a Bullseye putter which allows me to not only putt from either side, but to also use it for this type of recovery shot, and it works pretty well.
There is one other advantage to learning to hit the ball from the opposite side. If, for example, you turn around to hit the ball left handed, and find yourself standing on a cart path, the rules of golf allow you to take relief from the cart path and then turn back around and hit it right handed. However, the rules of golf state that you may only do so if it is “reasonable” for you to take a left handed, or unusual, stance.
Reasonableness is obviously a subjective determination, and one your playing buddy might not agree with. To get a good description of this situation I would recommend that you read Barry Rhodes Rules of Golf blog on this issue. And, if nothing else, book mark it so you can defend yourself, if the need arises. However, I would also argue that if your friends know you can make this shot, that in itself would make it seem more reasonable.