"I don't think it's unpatriotic to have a sporting event going on," Palmer said on the eve of the Bay Hill Invitational, a tournament he has hosted since 1979.
"I think those (troops) over there look to see what we're doing and I think that when they get up in the morning, they look to see who won the golf tournament or the baseball or basketball game," Palmer said.
"I think that diverts them from the fact that they are in danger. I think that gives them something to look forward to. I think their morale would be less if we stopped doing all those things."
Only a request from the highest levels of government would get Palmer to change his mind.
"Short of the President of the United States, or my friend Tom Ridge saying it's critical to us that you do not play, we're going to play," Palmer said.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]